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Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned 
and Academics Murdered 


Raymond W.Baker, 
T. Ismael and Tareq Y. Ismael 

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned 
and Academics Murdered 

Edited by 



First published 2010 by Pluto Press 

345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA and 

175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 

Distributed in the United State- of America exclusively by 
Palgrave Macmillan, a division of St. Martin's Press LLC, 
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 

Copyright © Raymond W. Baker, Shereen T. Ismael and Tareq Y. Ismael 20 I 

The right of the individual contributors to be identified as the authors of this 
work has been asserted b) them in accordance w ith the ( lopyright, Designs and 
Patents Act 1988. 

British I ibran Cataloguing in Publication Data 

A catalogue record for this hook is available from the British Library 

ISBN 978 7453 2813 3 Hardback 
ISBN 978 7453 2812 6 Paperback 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publica 

This book is printed on paper suitable tor recycling and made from 
fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and 
manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental 

standards ol the country of oi igin. 

Designed and produced for Pluto Press by 

Chase Publishing Services Ltd, Sidmouth, England 

Typeset from disl by ' int rd DTP Services, sorthampton bngland 

Printed and bound in the European Union by 

CPI Antony Roue. Chippenham and Eastbourne 

This book is dedicated to the memory of 

Professor Issam al-Rawi, Professor of Geology, 

Baghdad University and Chairman of the Association 

of University Teachers (AUT). Professor al-Rawi founded 

the register of assassinated academics and worked tirelessly to 

record the fate of Iraqi academics and experts in the wake of 

the invasion of the Coalition Forces and dissolution of the 

Iraqi state. Dr. al-Rawi was assassinated on October 30, 2006, 

after being targeted to silence the truth. 




1 Ending the Iraqi State 

Raymond W. Baker, Shereen T. Ismael, 

and Tareq Y. Ismael 

The Ideological Imperatives for a "New" Iraq 

The Neo-Conservative Movement 
Theory to Practice: The Modalities of State -Ending 

in Iraq 
Death Squads as Foreign Policy Tool 
The Israeli Example: State Destruction in Palestine 
The Question of Oil 
The Israeli Role in Iraq 

Israel in Occupied Iraq 
The Contours of Cultural Destruction 
Destruction of Social Institutions 

2 Cultural Cleansing in Comparative Perspective 

Glenn E. Perry 

The Cleansing of Civilizations 
The Cleansing of Peoples 
Building and Destroying Nations 
Crimes Against Culture: The Former Yugoslavia 
Crimes Against Culture: Palestine 

viii Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

PART II Policy in Motion: The Assault on Iraq's Incomparable History 

3 Archaeology and the Strategies of War 67 

Zainab Babrani 

The Assault on Iraqi History and Collective Memory 68 

The Willful Violence of Cultural Destruction 79 

4 The Current Status of the Archaeological Heritage 

of Iraq 82 

Abbas al-Hussainy 

The Destruction 82 

An Overview of the Iraqi Cultural Heritage 89 

The Islamic Heritage 91 

5 Negligent Mnemocide and the Shattering of Iraqi 
Collective Memory 93 
Nabil al-Tikriti 

Invasion Policies 94 

Baghdad Archives and Manuscript Collections 98 

Provincial Manuscript Collections 106 
Relative Human Valuation and the Collapse of 

Collective Memory 106 

PART III Policy in Motion: The Present and the Future 

6 Killing the Intellectual Class: Academics as Targets 119 

Dirk Adriaensens 

Looting, Arrests and Murder: The Occupation of 

Iraq Begins 119 

The Campaign of Assassination 121 

A Case Study: Baghdad's College of Dentistry 125 

Violence on Campus 129 

An Educational System on the Verge of Collapse 130 

Actions to Protect Iraqi Intellectuals 131 

The Occupation is Responsible 136 

Urgent Actions are Needed to Save Iraq's Academics 137 

Contents ix 

7 Wiping the Slate Clean 149 

Max Fuller and Dirk Adriaensens 

The Purge of Iraqi Academics 149 

Emergence of the Purge 149 

Targeted Assassinations 153 

Death Threats and Intimidation 156 

Kidnapping and Detention 160 

The Authorship of Killings of Iraqi Academics 164 

Motive and Opportunity 164 

Case Study 1: Professor Tareq Samarree 168 

Case Study 2: The Raid on the Ministry of 

Higher Education 170 
De-Ba'athification and the Origin of the Purge 

of Academics 172 

The Intelligence Apparatus 175 

The End of History? 181 

8 Death, Displacement, or Flight 203 


Brain Drain 204 

Crime for Wage 205 

Surge Purge 206 

Hard Times/Bleak Future 207 

Permanently Disabled 209 

9 The Purging of Minds 212 
Philip Marfleet 

National Character of Displacement 213 

"Brain Drain" 216 

Emergency 219 

Repression and Refuge 220 

Persecution 223 

Assault on the State 225 

State of Terror 227 

Salvador Option 230 

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

10 Minorities in Iraq: The Other Victims 

Mokhtar Lamani 



Field Research 


Current Situation of Minorities 










Other Minorities 


Governance Challenges 





Appendix 1: Reflections on Death Anxiety and 

University Professors in Iraq 


Faris K.O. Nadhmi 

Death Psychology 


Death Anxiety in Iraq 




Appendix 2: List of Murdered Academics 


Notes on Contributors 





No reasonable person, even those critics most angry and disgusted 
with the Bush administration, would claim that the destruction of 
particular Iraqi cultural treasures or the assassination of specific 
scholars was the aim of the armchair "warriors" who planned 
and launched the war against Iraq. Nevertheless, the destruction 
was willful. The war planners quite consciously and deliberately 
aimed for the destruction of the Iraqi state. They did so because 
a strong Iraq was an impediment to American imperial designs 
and Israeli insistence on unimpeded regional hegemony. A strong 
Iraqi state cast a shadow on both visions. In willful violation of 
international law against preventative war and with complete 
disregard for its responsibilities as an occupying power, the United 
States and its allies have failed to protect Iraq's incomparable 
cultural treasures. Given the scope of the destruction that took 
place on their watch, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the 
occupiers understood that damaging the cultural underpinnings of 
Iraqi identity would also hasten the collapse of modern day Iraq. In 
just the same way, the apparent indifference and failure to respond 
to the decimation of the Iraqi intellectual class through targeted 
assassinations points to the conclusion that Iraq's occupiers and 
their allies had little interest in preserving the priceless human 
resources represented by Iraq's educated elite. Oil mattered and 
so Oil Ministry records were protected. The files of the Interior 
Ministry that would certainly have compromised both Americans 
and Israelis mattered and so they were protected. In contrast, 
priceless archaeological artifacts and leading scholars faced the 
looters and the assassins alone and undefended. The aim of this 
book is to demonstrate to the world in the most precise and 
accurate way that conditions created by the occupiers enabled the 
cultural destruction of Iraq. There were of course other criminals 
afoot in the mayhem unleashed by the invasion. However, the 

xii Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

primary responsibility for this shameful, immoral and illegal 
chapter in modern history falls on the Bush administration that 
launched this war of choice to "remake" modern Iraq. 

This book results from a collective effort of Iraqi and 
international specialists to provide a record of what Iraqis and 
the world have lost. As a group we shared a commitment to 
record and assess the cultural devastation and the killings of 
Iraqi scholars and intellectuals. It was that commitment that 
allowed so diverse a group to work together so smoothly. We 
are grateful for the exceptional hard work and dedication from 
our two research assistants: Candice M. Juby worked diligently 
to bring the chapters into conformity with the publisher's style, 
and Christopher Langille helped in a multitude of ways to bring 
the project to completion. We are especially thankful as well to 
Roger van Zwanenberg, the chairman of Pluto Press, who offered 
creative suggestions and asked hard and stimulating questions at 
all stages. Finally, we appreciate the decision of Edel el Moallem 
of Dar el Shorouk International to publish an Arabic version of 
our book in cooperation with Pluto Press for distribution in the 
Arab world. 

The Editors 
February 7, 2009 


Formulating and Executing the 
Policy of Cultural Cleansing 



Raymond W. Baker, Shereen T. Ismael, and Tareq Y. Ismael 

Just days after the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, 
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared that a major 
focus of US foreign policy would be "ending states that sponsor 
terrorism." Iraq was labeled a "terrorist state" and targeted for 
"ending." President Bush went on to declare Iraq the major front 
of the global war on terror. American-led forces invaded with the 
express aim of dismantling the Iraqi state. 

Mainstream social science has yet to come to terms with the full 
meaning of "ending states" as a policy objective. Social science in 
the era of post- Wo rid War II decolonization has focused for the most 
part on the study of state-building and development. The primary 
axis of contention among development scholars and policy makers 
has been between one school espousing state-driven development 
models and a second advocating neo-liberal market approaches. 
Little has been written by either school on the question of state- 
destruction and de-development. Such outcomes have generally 
been seen as the by-products of war and civil-strife, rather than as 
desirable policy outcomes. Critical scholarship has challenged the 
adequacy of such dominant views. Critics draw attention to such 
phenomena as covert regime subversion, targeted assassinations, 
death squads, and ethnic cleansing. Such phenomena tend to be 
dismissed by the mainstream as representing criminal excess rather 
than explicit state policies. However, the preeminent superpower 
the United States, and its junior partner Israel, have had a hand in 
such activities for many decades. This important historical record 
of such activity tends to be reduced to CIA/Mossad excesses and 

4 Cultural Cleansi 

the product of operating in a "tough neighborhood," plagued 
by supposed age-old conflicts and religious extremism. In light 
of Iraq, such dismissals or rationalizations no longer suffice. 
It is now imperative to recognize that there are precedents for 
violence aimed at undermining or destroying states, though it is 
the magnitude of the destruction in Iraq that makes unavoidable 
the recognition and analysis of state-ending as a deliberate policy 

The consequences in human and cultural terms of the 
destruction of the Iraqi state have been enormous: notably, the 
deaths of over 1 million civilians; 1 the degradation in social 
infrastructure, including electricity, potable water, and sewage 
systems; the targeted assassination of over 400 academics and 
professionals and the displacement of approximately 4 million 
refugees and internally displaced people. All of these terrible losses 
are compounded by unprecedented levels of cultural devastation, 
attacks on national archives and monuments that represent the 
historical identity of the Iraqi people. Rampant chaos and violence 
hamper efforts at reconstruction, leaving the foundations of the 
Iraqi state in ruin. The majority of Western journalists, academics, 
and political figures have refused to recognize the loss of life on 
such a massive scale and the cultural destruction that accompanied 
it as the fully predictable consequences of American occupation 
policy. The very idea is considered unthinkable, despite the 
openness with which this objective was pursued. 

It is time to think the unthinkable. The American-led assault 
on Iraq forces us to consider the meaning and consequences of 
state-destruction as a policy objective. The architects of the Iraq 
policy never made explicit what deconstructing and reconstruct- 
ing the Iraqi state would entail; their actions, however, make 
the meaning clear. From those actions in Iraq, a fairly precise 
definition of state-ending can now be read. The campaign to 
destroy the state in Iraq involved first the removal and execution 
of Saddam Hussein and the capture of Ba'ath Party figures. 
However, state destruction went beyond regime change. It also 
entailed the purposeful dismantling of major state institutions 
and the launching of a prolonged process of political reshaping. 

Ending the Iraqi State 5 

Contemporary Iraq represents a fragmented pastiche of s< 
forces with the formal trappings of liberal democracy and neo- 
liberal economic structures. Students of history will recognize in 
the occupation of Iraq the time-honored technique of imperial 
divide et imperia (divide and rule), used to fracture and subdue 
culturally cohesive regions. The regime installed by occupation 
forces in Iraq reshaped the country along divisive sectarian lines, 
dissolving the hard-won unity of a long state-building project. The 
so-called sovereign Iraqi government, the Iraqi Governing Council 
(IGC), established by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), 
was founded as a sectarian ruling body, with a system of quotas 
for ethnic and confessional groupings. This formula decisively 
established the sectarian parameters of the "new Iraq." 

In parallel fashion the occupiers have redesigned the nationalistic 
and state-centered economy to conform to an extreme neo-liberal 
market model marked by privatization and the opening of the 
fragile Iraqi market to foreign capital, especially American. 
Nowhere is this more evident than in the dismantling of Iraq's 
national industries. The oil sector in particular has been opened to 
the domination of non-Iraqi, predominantly US companies. Iraq's 
national industries, the backbone of the country's autonomous 
national project, have been auctioned off through a wrenching 
process of privatization, plagued by corruption. Iraq's central 
bank has been prohibited outright from financing state-owned 
enterprise. With the collapse of trade tariffs and tax regimes, Iraq's 
private sector has been overwhelmed by foreign competition. 

The political and economic reengineering of Iraq under 
occupation demands critical evaluation. The Iraq invasion, 
however, brings into view the equally consequential human and 
cultural dimensions of state destruction as a war aim. State- 
ending in Iraq was a comprehensive policy. However, its human 
and cultural dimensions have yet to be as fully documented and 
analyzed as an integral part of the destruction of the Iraqi state. 
The horrors of cultural destruction and targeted assassinations 
in Iraq are still seen for the most part as a mere consequence 
of war and social disorder. The mainstream narrative bemoans 
the loss of world class cultural treasures and views the murders 

6 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

of individuals through the prism of human rights violations as 
"collateral damage." 

Such views obscure more than they reveal. Few would question 
that state-building has an integral cultural and human dimension. 
So too, we argue, does state-destruction. To be remade, a state 
must be rendered malleable. Obstacles to this goal in Iraq included 
an impressive intelligentsia committed to a different societal model 
and the unifying culture they shared. The actions of the occupying 
forces indicate that they understood that the emergence of the 
new Iraq would require liberation from the grip of the inherited 
intelligentsia and culture of a unified Iraq. Iraq under occupation 
would see both human and cultural erasures that advanced these 
goals. Thus, state destruction in Iraq entailed more than regime 
change and more than political and economic restructuring. It 
also required cultural cleansing, understood in the Iraqi case as 
the degrading of a unifying culture and the depletion of an intel- 
ligentsia tied to the old order. 2 The occupiers acted accordingly. 

For this cultural and social dimension of state destruction, 
however, we do not have the same explicit policy directives as 
for the project of political and economic remaking. Nor was the 
process itself as straightforward. The cultural cleansing of Iraq 
was achieved in large part by inaction. The occupiers fostered and 
legitimated a climate of lawlessness with the wholly predictable 
consequence of weakening a unifying culture and eliminating 
an intelligentsia that had staffed Iraq's public institutions. One 
would be hard pressed to find an explicit admission of such aims 
from the architects of Iraqi occupation. Yet, the issues cannot be 
avoided simply in absence of an explicit policy declaration along 
these lines. The parallel cases of Bosnia, Palestine, and the 2008 
Israeli rampage in Gaza make it imperative to put the cultural and 
human dimensions of ideologically-driven state destruction front 
and center. Talk of incompetent planning and "collateral damage" 
in the context of a global war against terrorism persuades many 
precisely because the very idea of deliberate cultural destruction 
and targeted murders on so wide a scale is so unthinkable to 

Ending the Iraqi State 7 

Ironically, the unembarrassed ideological context within 
which Iraq was invaded makes it easier to challenge effectively 
the mainstream inclination to disregard cultural destruction as 
willed policy. State-ending in Iraq was explicitly intended to have 
an instructive effect. The invasion of Iraq had the larger purpose 
of demonstrating precisely how unchallengeable and unrestrained 
the shock and awe of American power would be to all those forces 
that stood in its way. Massive loss of life and cultural devastation 
were acceptable, if not outright desired. For the demonstration 
of the power of the sole superpower the deaths and depredations 
were in many ways the most chilling markers. At the same time, 
ideological forces that set and defined these objectives of state- 
ending in Iraq stepped out of the shadows and took center stage. 
To be sure, the real motives behind the assault were covered by the 
useful talk of "terror" and liberation. However, it was important 
for the demonstration effect that the assault itself and the havoc 
it caused be screened as fully as possible. Consequently, there 
could be no doubt as to what those forces were, no matter the dis- 
simulations that screened their purposes. The ideologically driven 
aim of state-ending derived from a confluence of influences that 
included American neo-conservatism and its imperial ambitions, 
Israeli expansionism and its drive for regional domination, and 
Western multinationals and their relentless quest to regain control 
of Iraqi oil. 

The Ideological Imperatives for a "New" Iraq 

The cultural and social destruction of Iraq was foreshadowed 
by a decade of ideological statements and policy planning. And 
with the controversial Presidential election of George W. Bush in 
2000, and the casus belli provided by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 
this ideological vision was put in practice, Iraq representing the 
preeminent test case. The neo-conservative policy pursued an 
objective to "remake" Iraq in order to demonstrate US global 
military dominance at its "unipolar moment." The grand objective 
was the commitment that American global superiority, realized 
with the collapse of the Soviet Union, would never be surrendered. 

8 Cultural Cle 

America had the unmatched and unprecedented power to assure 
that its dominance would be made a permanent international 
reality. The strategically important Middle East would be remade 
in the American image. To that end, the invasion of Iraq would 
display America's crushing military power to a world reduced 
to the status of spectators in a spectacle of a state's destruction, 
marked by massive civilian casualties, cultural devastation, and 
the pauperization of its people. In the wake of state-ending, 
the Americans and their British allies would create a massive 
regional base in the very heart of the Arab Islamic world to 
guarantee that Western hegemony in this crucial region would 
be permanent and unchallengeable. There would of course be 
permanent military bases. Iraq would be held up as a bastion of 
the American example and a model for the transformation of the 
entire area. For its substantial contributions to the effort to subdue 
and destroy the old Iraq, America's most important regional ally, 
Israel, would be freed of the one Arab power that had supported 
the Palestinian resistance in a regional context of ever increasing 
accommodation and defeatism. Finally, Western corporations, 
with American companies in the lead, would be in a position to 
dictate the terms of favorable deals with the Iraqi occupation 
regime to gain Western control of the nation's oil. 

Whatever the ultimate measure of their success or failure, these 
three ideological forces drove the comprehensive policy of state- 
ending in Iraq. In any event, all of these ideological motivations 
proved unrealistic in their maximalist aspirations but not before 
Iraqis died by the hundreds of thousands, Iraqi intellectuals 
were singled out in the hundreds for targeted assassination, Iraqi 
institutions were looted and destroyed, and Iraq's glorious culture, 
the pride of all Iraqis - and a treasure of world history - was 
irreparably wounded. 

The Neo-Conservative Movement 

President George W Bush was surrounded by a neo-conservative 
and hyper-nationalist coterie that strove to establish a link between 
September 11 and Saddam Hussein's regime, whatever the actual 

Ending the Iraqi State 9 

facts of the matter. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed 
the case for war with Iraq, even suggesting that the US forgo 
attacks on al-Qaeda and Afghanistan in favor of toppling Saddam 
Hussein's regime, which presented the US with better targets and 
the opportunity for a superior demonstration effect. 3 

Leading neo-conservative intellectuals and policy makers had 
long advanced the objective of eliminating the Iraq regime as 
the first step of an even more ambitious project of re-visioning 
the Middle East as a whole. After President George H.W. Bush 
had spared the Hussein regime following the 1991 Gulf War, 
Paul Wolfowitz, then the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, 
along with similarly staunch-minded neo-conservatives, argued 
that the US had missed a vital opportunity to enact sweeping 
change throughout the Middle East. Wolfowitz and Zalmay 
Khalilzad responded by elaborating a new vision to achieve long- 
term US dominance in world affairs, starting with securing the 
Middle East. 

This new thinking was articulated in a secret draft document 
written by Paul Wolfowitz and the later-incarcerated Lewis 
"Scooter" Libby, drawn up in 1992 and subsequently leaked 
to the Washington Post. The document, which was re-written 
by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and entitled "Defense 
Planning Guidance" (DPG) argued that the primary objective of 
US post-Cold War strategy should be preventing the emergence of 
any rival superpowers by safeguarding American hegemony over 
vital resources. 4 Iraq, of course, sat on the second largest pool of 
oil in the region and the Iraqi regime posed what was judged to 
be a serious challenge as well as a great opportunity for the sole 
superpower to act. The imperative of American dominance was 
tied rhetorically to efforts to "increase respect for international 
law, limit international violence, and encourage the spread of 
democratic forms of government and open economic systems." 5 
In practice, it is not international law but American dominance 
that is to be preserved, just as the concern for democracy and 
free markets is always tempered by attention to US interests. US 
dominance, seen as a "guarantor of international order," was 
in neo-conservative polemics and policy papers, made a moral 

10 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

imperative, making it possible to associate any challenge to 
American dominance as a challenge to sacrosanct international 
values. Among the challengers to the "moral imperative" of US 
dominance, Iraq figured prominently. Iraq not only supported 
Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories but also created 
obstacles to US "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian 
Gulf oil" and was also responsible for "[proliferating] weapons 
of mass destruction and ballistic missiles," and " threat [ening] 
U.S. citizens [with] terrorism...." 6 

The draft DPG served as the first major post-Cold War manifesto 
of the neo-conservative bloc that continued to strategize and create 
think tanks and press outlets to advance the vision of American 
dominance. Two major initiatives of the neo-conservatives were 
the reinvigoration of the American Enterprise Institute and the 
founding of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), 
which both included Dick Cheney as an active member. These 
organizations played an especially influential role in designing a 
more aggressive posture for America in a post-Cold War world, 
most notably in the Middle East. 

A bold example of this new assertive thinking was seen in 
a policy paper drafted in 2000 by PNAC entitled Rebuilding 
America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New 
Century, endorsed by Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby and a cadre 
of leading neo-conservative intellectuals. It reiterated the major 
themes of the DPG, citing that document as a major foundation for 
the updated analysis. 7 The PNAC protocol emphatically reiterated 
the importance of the Persian Gulf as a region of vital importance, 
with voluminous references to America's "special interests" in the 
region. 8 Additionally, the document called for an "enduring" US 
presence in this region of strategic and commercial interests. 9 In 
this assessment, the character of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq and 
its actual domestic and foreign policies were largely irrelevant, 
though they later figured largely in anti-Iraqi propaganda. What 
mattered was a pro-US presence in its place. "Indeed, the United 
States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in 
Gulf regional security... the need for a substantial American force 
presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam 

Ending the Iraqi State 11 

Hussein." 10 Shortly before September 11, Donald Rumsfeld had 
once again articulated this commitment to ending Iraq, arguing 
that the toppling of the Ba'ath regime and its replacement by a 
pro- American state, "would change everything in the region and 
beyond it. It would demonstrate what US policy is all about." 11 
Iraq remade by force would be the exemplar of American 
aspirations for the region. 

Given the fixation with US domination in the Persian Gulf, 
Iraq inevitably became a central component and major target of 
Bush's foreign policy. An important element of that policy entailed 
a rethinking of the US relationship with Israel and more aggressive 
support for Israeli expansionism. America would dominate the 
world, while Israel would exercise unchallenged hegemony in 
the Middle East. The moment was right, the neo-conservatives 
argued, for Israel to consolidate by force its maximalist claims 
against Palestinian nationalism. Iraq figured in a large way in these 
calculations as representing the single most powerful restraint 
on Israel's rightful ambitions, as neo-conservatives understood 
them. Within this framework, the removal of the Ba'athist state 
on which Saddam's regime rested was a priority well before the 
September 11 attacks. 

A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (1996), 
authored by prominent figures of the US neo-conservative 
movement and pro-Israel lobby, illustrates quite clearly how 
consistently Iraq loomed large in neo-conservative thinking about 
Israel's prospects. This influential position paper identified Iraq 
as a primary strategic threat to Israel's dominance in the region 
and the overthrow of Iraq was heralded as an opportunity to alter 
"the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly." 12 This neo- 
conservative call for the destruction of Iraq included the fantasy 
proposal of restoring "Hashemite" control over Iraq, which was 
imagined as a lever to pull the country's Shi'ite majority away 
from Iranian influence. The idea of restoring the pre-revolutionary 
monarchy had little to no support in Iraq. This ideologically- 
driven misinformation in a document taken so seriously does help 
explain why US officials were so credulous when told that Iraq's 

12 Cultural Clean; 

Shi'ites would be pro- American and quite prepared to turn away 
from their Iranian co-religionists. 

In the light of the well-documented and longstanding emphasis 
on toppling Iraq by key figures in the Bush administration, there 
is little doubt that the September 1 1 attacks were seized upon 
as the enabling moment to enact a wide-ranging program in the 
Persian Gulf region. The imperative to invade Iraq and remodel the 
Middle East were parts of a larger strategic goal that considered 
a long-term presence in Iraq to be necessary for the extension of 
"US values" throughout the rest of the region. A reengineered 
Iraq would play a critical role as a staging ground to alter the 
behavior of recalcitrant states across the region. The consistent, 
underlying objective was the building of an unchallengeable 
American global hegemony, Israeli regional dominance as an 
extension of American power, and the assertion of unquestioned 
control over the enormous energy resources of the Persian Gulf. 
All of these objectives would contribute to the larger strategic task 
of blocking the ascent of any other would-be superpower. 

Theory to Practice: The Modalities of State-Ending 
in Iraq 

The policy of ending states, announced by Wolfowitz, was enacted 
with a vengeance in Iraq. Under occupation, Iraq has been stripped 
of its historical national project of state-building and turned into 
a shell state with little to no control over its national affairs. The 
modalities of this state-ending policy deserve close attention for 
what they reveal about the larger question of American-Israeli 
regional and global ambition and the engineering of chaos and 
violence to achieve those objectives. As we have seen, part of the 
difficulty in coming to terms with the dismantling of the Iraqi state 
has been a mainstream failure to acknowledge that the violence 
of state destruction in Iraq was deliberate. In fact, such purposive 
violence of terrible proportions has antecedents in the chronicles 
of US and Israeli foreign policy. The levels of violence and the 
forms that violence took are foreshadowed by the US record 
in confronting challenges to US dominance in the Americas. In 

Ending the Iraqi State 13 

parallel fashion, the Israeli pattern of unrestrained, deliberate 
violence against the occupied Palestinians regularly targeted both 
state and civil society institutions that expressed in pacific ways 
the Palestinian aspiration for statehood. Israel openly defended 
the necessity of not only torture but of kidnapping and targeted 
assassination to contain the threat of Palestinian nationalism. 

It is important to bring just enough of this history into view 
to facilitate coming to terms with the appalling levels of violence 
suffered in post-invasion Iraq. American-trained and -supported 
death squads wrought havoc in Latin and Central America, 
matched by the fairly routine Israeli targeted assassinations of 
Palestinian resistance leaders. The Israeli use of the overwhelming 
force of one of the world's most advanced military machines 
against Gaza and its captive and essentially defenseless civilian 
population in 2008 makes it clear that whatever we can learn of 
state destruction in Iraq will have continuing relevance. 13 Such 
understanding, based on careful review of the consequences of 
state destruction in Iraq, can also assist in breaking through 
the obscurantist spell cast by the war on terror. The means and 
methods of state destruction were already part of the arsenal of 
the dominant superpower's arsenal as well as that of its regional 
junior partner, though the war on terror rationalized their use 
with great effectiveness. 

Death Squads as Foreign Policy Tool 

For the theorists of state-ending, there is a long and ignoble 
history on which they can draw of counterinsurgency efforts based 
on roving "death squads" to suppress indigenous resistance. 14 
The apex of this policy was in the anti-Communist campaigns 
in 1980s Central America, whose emblem was the Nicaraguan 
"Contra" forces. Following the Boland Amendment of 1982 and 
its extension in 1984, formal US funding for the Contra forces 
was discontinued. This curtailment in the end led to surreptitious 
and unofficial forms of funding. Best known is the infamous Iran- 
Contra affair, where arms-for-hostage revenues were diverted to 
fund the Contras. Less discussed was the development of ties 

14 Cultural Cle 

between the Contra army and South American drug traffickers 
as means of financial support. Suspicions of CIA participation 
in the Contra-cocaine nexus have been variously investigated, 
suggesting a shadowy and hard to document network. 15 At 
minimum, however, the Kerry Commission (Senate Committee 
Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy chaired 
by Senator John F. Kerry) revealed that the US State Department 
had paid $806,000 to known drug fronts in order to provide 
assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras. Allegations of direct CIA 
participation in drug dealings are frequent, though they were 
officially denied by the CIA in a 1997 internal investigation. 

Death-squad activity is inherently murky and therefore it 
will come as no surprise that the rise of death squads in Iraq is 
shrouded in secrecy. However, available reportage does provide 
some illumination into this affair. Organized violence in Iraq falls 
into three broad categories. The first is the general criminality 
and gangsterism that exploded following the 2003 invasion. The 
second comprises various forms of anti-occupation violence and 
originates from the constellation of groups that target occupation 
forces and the official Iraqi security forces. The third form, with 
the clearest relevance to death squads, is the violence of organized 
paramilitary groups involved in sectarian killings and conflict 
with the resistance. Frequent claims tie such violence to the Iraqi 
Interior Ministry, though the evidence is never conclusive. In a 
similar way, the Kurkish pesbmerga forces, particularly those 
alleged to have been trained by Israel, are widely believed to be 
involved in the targeting of elements of the Shi'i "insurgency." 
Circumstantial evidence points to death-squad activities, though 
their violent actions reflect the unique Kurdish circumstance and 

A direct and clear connection can be established between high 
American officials involved in "counterinsurgency" projects of 
Central America and those involved in contemporary Iraq. The 
most prominent of these figures is James Steele, who in the 1980s 
"honed his tactics leading a Special Forces mission in El Salvador 
during the country's brutal civil war." That bloody conflict resulted 
in 70,000 deaths. A UN truth commission found that as many as 

Ending the Iraqi State 15 

85 percent of those deaths were attributable to US-backed forces. 16 
Steele reemerged in occupied Iraq as an advisor to the Iraqi Interior 
Ministry, the Iraqi institution most associated with death-squad 
activity. He also played an advisory role to the Iraqi counterin- 
surgency force, the Special Police Commandos. The Commandos 
were formed by Falah al-Naqib, interior minister under the 
interim government of Ayad Allawi. The Commando forces were 
drawn from "veterans of [Saddam] Hussein's special forces and 
the Republican Guard." 17 By 2006 the paramilitary forces of the 
Interior Ministry were widely believed to be heavily involved in 
death-squad activity. The Badr Organization, the armed wing of 
the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, played a lead 
role. 18 In July 2005 the "Wolf Brigade," a subset of the Interior 
Ministry Commandos, was implicated in a series of sectarian 
killings and, in November 2005, US soldiers stumbled upon a 
"torture chamber" of 170 "half starved and... seriously beaten" 
prisoners, again operated by the Interior Ministry. In any case, 
General Petraeus in 2005 "decided the commandos would receive 
whatever arms, ammunition and supplies they required." 19 

The cooption of indigenous forces into the occupation forces 
extended with the Petraeus-led "military surge" of 2007 onward, 
where the so-called "Awakening Councils" of al-Anbar, a network 
of Sunni-based tribes, were armed by the US occupation authorities. 
They formed a force numbering over 80,000 "Iraqi Security 
Volunteers" (ISVs). In the estimation of Chas Freeman, former 
ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the policy of "surge" served to 

essentially support a quasi-feudal devolution of authority to armed enclaves, 
which exist at the expense of central government authority. .. Those we are 
arming and training are arming and training themselves not to facilitate 
our objectives but to pursue their own objectives vis-a-vis other Iraqis. It 
means that the sectarian and ethnic conflicts that are now suppressed are 
likely to burst out with even greater ferocity in the future. 20 

In this way, a policy ostensibly designed to curb sectarian violence 
provided grounds for the escalation of future sectarianism. Indeed, 
according to research conducted by the University of California, 
the "surge" owes much of its putative success to ethnic violence. 

16 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

The "cleansing" of Iraq's formerly mixed neighborhoods reduced 
available targets and thus the death tolls fell. This measure of 
success is dubious, to say the least. "If the surge had truly 'worked' 
we would expect to see a steady increase in night-light output over 
time," says Thomas Gillespie, one of the study co-authors, in a 
press release. "Instead, we found that the night-light signature 
diminished in only certain neighborhoods, and the pattern appears 
to be associated with ethno-sectarian violence and neighborhood 
ethnic cleansing." 21 

The Israeli Example: State Destruction in Palestine 

Israel has a long record of attacking Palestinian government and 
civil society institutions to prevent the emergence of the infrastruc- 
ture for a viable Palestinian state and civil society. The modalities 
of this Israeli pattern were recently put on more public display 
than has usually been the case. In late 2008, the Israelis launched 
an intensive ground-and-air offensive against Palestinian society, 
nominally to end the primitive rocket-attacks from Gaza, but 
in reality to undermine Hamas as an operational entity and 
bolster the compliant Fatah movement. In the end, over 1,300 
Palestinians were killed, civilians representing at least a third, 
versus 13 Israeli fatalities. Physical damage was initially estimated 
at over $2 billion. 22 Moreover, Palestinian unity - already fragile 
- was further undermined in light of a widespread belief in Fatah 
collaboration in the Israeli assault. Accusations of this sort, and 
the round of anti-Fatah recriminations that followed the Israeli 
assault, undoubtedly are partly Hamas propaganda. However, 
they do contain more than a kernel of truth. 

Hamas today faces attacks on two fronts, from IDF/IAF assaults 
as well as US-backed Fatah forces. A 2008 investigation revealed 
that the US had funded and backed an armed force under Fatah 
strongman Mohammad Dahlan. Beginning in late 2006, the US 
State Department solicited its Arab allies to bolster Fatah by 
providing military training and armaments. In conjunction with 
this fundraising, the US drafted a document titled "An Action Plan 

Ending the Iraqi State 17 

for the Palestinian Presidency," otherwise known as "Plan B," 
calling for 

. . .Abbas to "collapse the government" if HAMAS refused to alter its attitude 
towards Israel... Security concerns were paramount... it was essential for 
Abbas to maintain "independent control of the security forces"... [The 
Plan] called for increasing the "level and capacity of 15,000 of Fatah's 
existing security personnel" while adding 4,700 troops in seven new highly 
trained battalions.... 23 

Ultimately, the particulars of this plot became public knowledge 
and contributed to the outbreak of a civil war between Hamas 
and Fatah forces, to the great detriment of the Palestinian people 
and the project of Palestinian national unity. 

The methods of the United States in Iraq and the methods of 
Israel in the Palestinian territories represent similar modalities 
of "counterinsurgency": overwhelming violence against civilian 
populations - keeping them in a state of sociopolitical catatonia; 
the suppression of all forms of resistance - military, political, 
or social; and a policy of divide-and-rule, which is to say the 
cooption of compliant groups in order to sow division and 
undermine national unity. In the case of Iraq, Shi'i-dominated 
"death squads" appeared to operate with impunity out of the Iraqi 
Interior Ministry, and thereafter, the United States directly coopted 
the former resistance of the Anbar province, creating a heavily 
armed force that counterbalanced the Shi'i armed-parties. These 
conflicting policies did create a temporary state of equilibrium 
between warring Shi'i and Sunni armed groupings. However, they 
also helped create the conditions of future civil war. Israel likewise 
has vacillated in its cooption of Palestinian groups, first the Islamic 
movements during the 1980s, and later the corrupt Fatah in order 
to undermine Hamas. The end result in both cases is engineered 
fracturing of national unity. 

The Question of Oil 

The thinking behind the invasion of Iraq did not neglect oil, 
r how often the denials of its role as a motivating 

18 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

consideration. In simple and direct terms, General John Abizaid, 
the former chief of US Central Command, terminated official 
pretense that oil was not a factor in the invasion of Iraq. "Of course 
it's about oil," he said bluntly, "we can't really deny that...." 24 
Despite the calculated mists that clouded public discussion of the 
oil factor, there was already a public record of such acknowledge- 
ments of the centrality of oil. In 1999 Dick Cheney, then acting 
CEO of Halliburton, gave a speech at the Institute of Petroleum 
highlighting his vision of the critical role of oil in general and 
Middle Eastern oil in particular. He said: 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a 
day. So where is the oil going to come from? Governments and the national 
oil companies are obviously controlling about ninety per cent of the assets. 
Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions 
of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds 
of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately 
lies, even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress 
continues to be slow. 25 

Consistent with the neo-conservative vision, Cheney as Vice 
President advanced the argument that control of Iraqi oil was key to 
dominance over the incomparable oil reserves of the entire Middle 
East. Cheney created the National Energy Policy Development 
Group on January 29, 2001. The group, commonly known as the 
" Cheney Energy Task Force" included many of the Chief Executive 
Officers of the major energy corporations. It produced a National 
Energy Policy report in May of its first year of activity. In its rec- 
ommendations, the group urged the US administration to take 
the initiative in pressing the governments of the Middle Eastern 
countries to open their economies for foreign investments. 

Earlier, in 1993, six giant oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell, 
British Petroleum, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Halliburton and 
Chevron, sponsored the International Tax and Investment Center 
(ITIC) which eventually included 110 corporations. Documents 
obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in 
late 1990s Anglo-American representations were made on behalf 
of oil companies to secure Iraqi oil contracts. ITIC was advised to 

Ending the Iraqi State 19 

write a report emphasizing Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) 
to ensure the success of long-term control over oil. By April 2002 
the State Department had already organized 17 working groups, 
made up of over 200 Iraqi engineers, lawyers, businesspeople, 
doctors and other non-Iraqi experts, to strategize on post-Saddam 
Iraq. This initiative came to be known as the Future of Iraq Project. 
The group on "Oil and Energy" envisioned a de-monopolized 
Iraqi National Oil Company, where private investors in upstream 
oil production would have a free hand, calling for "...production 
sharing agreements (PSA) structured to facilitate participation in 
Iraq's upstream oil industry of the best international oil and gas 
companies." 26 On May 12, 2003, Gal Luft, co-director of the 
Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, in an article entitled 
"How Much Oil Does Iraq Have?" wrote: 

Over the past several months, news organizations and experts have regularly 
cited Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) 
figures claiming that the territory of Iraq contains over 112 billion barrels 
(bbl) of proven reserves - oil that has been definitively discovered and is 
expected to be economically producible. In addition, since Iraq is the least 
explored of the oil-rich countries, there have been numerous claims of huge 
undiscovered reserves there as well - oil thought to exist, and expected 
to become economically recoverable - to the tune of hundreds of billions 
of barrels. The respected Petroleum Economist Magazine estimates that 
there may be as many as 200 bbl of oil in Iraq; the Federation of American 
Scientists estimates 215 bbl; a study by the Council on Foreign Relations 
and the James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University claimed that Iraq has 
220 bbl of undiscovered oil; and another study by the Center for Global 
Energy Studies and Petrolog & Associates offered an even more optimistic 
estimate of 300 bbl. 27 

In December 2002, Oil and Gas Journal published a study 
to the effect that "Western oil companies estimate that they can 
produce a barrel of Iraqi oil for less than $US 1.50 and possibly 
as little as $US 1, including all exploration, oilfield development 
and production costs and including a 15% return. This production 
cost is similar to Saudi Arabia and lower than virtually any other 
country." Iraqi oil, henceforth, was envisioned as the petrochemical 

20 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

prize of the Persian Gulf, particularly if de-nationalized and in the 
hands of American or American-friendly multinational entities. 

Under occupation, the oil factor imposed itself in an entirely 
predictable fashion. Iraq's oil industry, which had been the 
fulcrum of its national development, was slated for repossession 
by the forces of corporate capitalism. The US attempted to bully 
through a comprehensive oil law. If passed that law would have 
granted Western oil conglomerates 25-30 year contracts, awarded 
on a non-competitive basis, over the production of oil. By such 
arrangements, the bulk of revenues would return to the corporate 
giants rather than the Iraqi nation, on the model of the "glory 
days" of British domination over the oil-producing Gulf region. 
Iraq's national oil industry, which for decades had served as a 
unifying source of pride and the lever of Iraq's socioeconomic 
development, risked falling into the hands of occupying forces. 
The bulk of Iraqi society stands opposed to any such outcomes. 
The Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, which represents over half of 
the industry workers in southern Iraq, consistently opposed the 
law. The Federation saw it as an imperial grab by multinational 
corporations that would mean the surrendering of Iraq's national 
sovereignty. In spite of this opposition, even from the pro-US 
parliamentarians who nominally govern the country, the push 
for a multinational oil grab continued. 

A first round in the contest ended in June 2008 when the New 
York Times on June 19 reported that "deals with Iraq are set to 
bring the oil giants back." In its subtitle the NYT summed up 
the outcome of the negotiations by commenting on "Rare No-bid 
Contracts, A Foothold for Western Companies Seeking Future 
Rewards." It is worth noting that the four companies involved, 
were precisely those that lost their concessions in 1972. The 
agreements fell short of the production sharing arrangements that 
the four oil giants - Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, the French 
company Total, and BP, formerly British Petroleum - initially 
sought. The companies did not get quite the level of control they 
sought, although the agreements did provide a foot in the door 
and an opportunity to reap huge profits from the rise in oil prices. 
Iraq, indeed, has been remade economically with the transforma- 

Ending the Iraqi State 21 

tion of the oil industry, though not completely and not without 
significant resistance. 

The Israeli Role in Iraq 

The Israeli role vis-a-vis Iraq has deep and complex roots that go 
beyond the demonstration effect of its own role in the occupied 
Palestinian territories, considered earlier. It requires more detailed 
consideration here as one of the three major drivers behind the 
invasion. Since the consolidation of the Israeli state, though 
particularly following Israel's victory in the 1967 war, the United 
States has relied upon the state of Israel as its junior partner contra 
Arab nationalist movements. Israel, to be sure, was not the only 
regional power to play this role. Saudi Arabia was the crucial Arab 
ally in sponsoring reactionary Islamic movements to oppose both 
assertive Arab nationalist regimes and their Soviet allies. 

Within occupied Palestine, Israel also looked in the Islamic 
direction for allies against the secular nationalism represented 
by the PLO. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew 
University of Jerusalem, Israel's tilt to the Islamists included 
authorizing Islamic forces "to receive money payments from 
abroad." 28 The policy worked in the short run and secular- 
nationalist forces in Palestine were indeed weakened by the rise of 
Islamic movements. However, the success had its costs. Nurtured 
by Israel, the Islamic embryo later emerged as Hamas, Israel's 
contemporary nemesis. 

Beyond the sponsorship of Islamic and traditionalist forces 
to counter Arab nationalism, regional American-Israeli strategy 
has aimed, when opportunities arise, for the marginalization or 
even cooption of nationalist regimes. Under American auspices, 
Egypt signed the Camp David Accords in 1978, leading to an 
Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and normal diplomatic relations. 29 
Egypt, having broken the regional taboo against accommodation 
with Israel, sacrificed its pretensions of regional leadership in 
confronting the assertive Zionist state. Iraq attempted to pick up 
that mantle with overt support for the Palestinian resistance. As 
a result Iraq, previously a tangential participant in Arab-Israel 

22 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

wars, saw itself attacked by Israel in 1981 when the Osirak 
nuclear facilities were bombed. That attack had as much to do 
with undercutting Iraq's pro-Palestinian stance as with any nuclear 
threat to Israel. Both were viewed as challenges to unquestioned 
Israeli regional hegemony. As a matter of doctrine, Israel asserts a 
unilateral right to nuclear weaponry within the region, a posture 
that today teases possible strikes against Iran. 

As with Egypt, there have been Israeli attempts to co-opt Iraq 
with the hope of converting it from a rejectionist to accommo- 
dationist regime. In 1984, Donald Rumsfeld presented Iraqi 
Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz with a proposal from Yitzhak Shamir 
to reopen the trans-Arabian oil pipeline, according to Nigel 
Ashton in Hussein: A Political Life. Ashton tells us that when the 
offer was presented by Rumsfeld, "Aziz turned pale and begged 
Rumsfeld to take back his message." 30 An apparent follow-up 
was attempted in 1995, where Israel sought improved relations 
with Iraq as part of an attempt to marginalize Assad's Syria and 
the growing Iranian presence. This secret diplomacy, undertaken 
through King Hussein's Jordan, apparently saw Saddam "not 
rul[ing] out direct contacts with [Prime Minister] Rabin." In 
any event, this secret diplomacy ended with the deterioration of 
Israeli-Jordanian relations." 

Israel in Occupied Iraq 

The US has found it politically necessary to disavow any level of 
Israeli-US cooperation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, 
making the unlikely claim that Israel took no position on the 
matter of invading Iraq. 32 Investigative journalism suggests an 
entirely different and far more plausible picture. In fact, given 
Israel's deep resentment of Iraq as the erstwhile champion of 
Arab nationalism and the Palestinian cause, Israel clearly had a 
stake in weakening or eliminating the Iraqi state. It is no surprise 
to learn, therefore, that the Office of Special Plans, an unofficial 
intelligence cadre answerable to Vice President Dick Cheney, 
"forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc, intelligence operation inside 
Ariel Sharon's office in Israel. This channel aimed specifically to 

Ending the Iraqi State 23 

bypass the Mossad and provide the Bush administration with 
more alarmist reports of Saddam's Iraq than the Mossad was 
prepared to authorize." 33 

As Iraq was in the thrall of occupation and domination by 
Anglo-American forces, available reports suggest anything but 
Israeli passivity. In late 2003 Seymour Hersh wrote: 

Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with 
their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort 
Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in 
Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers - again, 
in secret - when full-field operations begin. 34 

Israel took an even more direct role in Iraq in 2003, providing 
materiel support and training for Kurdish peshmerga forces in 
order first to "penetrate, gather intelligence on, and then kill 
off the leadership of the Shiite and Sunni insurgencies in Iraq," 
and finally to aid in Israeli efforts "to install sensors and other 
sensitive devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear 
facilities." 35 In the context of intensified sectarian conflict and 
Arab-Kurdish wrangling over the fate of oil-rich Kirkuk, such 
actions had a highly incendiary effect. 

Israeli involvement in Iraqi national affairs extends to political 
and diplomatic affairs. Israel has always drawn attention to the 
ethno-religious diversity of Iraq and has consistently sought to 
exploit those differences Again, the Kurdish connection stands 
out. Relations between the Zionist movement and the Kurds 
predate the founding of Israel. As early as the 1930s Ruvin Shiloh, 
a delegate of the Jewish national agency met with members of the 
Barzani clan as part of efforts to forge relations with the various 
Kurdish factions within Iraq. Israel has maintained sporadic ties 
to the Kurdish factions ever since, with the notable exception 
of the PKK, given their leftism and vigorous support for the 
Palestinian cause. These relations allegedly extended as far as 
Mossad participation in the creation of the Paristan - the Kurdish 
Intelligence Agency - working with Massoud al-Barzani, head of 
the organization, who 

24 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

underwent a concentrated training program in Kurdistan and Israel. 
According to Obaidullah al-Barzani, son of Mulla Barzani, Israelis were 
permanently accompanying my father, were always calling Israel by a 
wireless device and performed espionage acts in Iraq. 36 

In 1980 Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledged 
that his country had been providing the Kurds with military and 
humanitarian aid for years. 37 

Israel today continues to make overtures to the Kurds, even 
though at present diplomatic contacts between Israel and Iraq 
are limited. During an official visit to Kuwait in 2006 Massoud 
commented pointedly that, in principle, "it is not a crime to have 
relations with Israel. " Noting that such important Arab countries 
as Egypt and Jordan already had such relations, Massoud 
announced that "should Baghdad establish diplomatic relations 
with Israel, we could open a consulate in Irbil." 38 Massoud was 
clearly signaling interest in open accommodation of the Israeli 
regime with the inevitable consequence of compromise on support 
for Palestinian nationalism. 

Similar possibilities were suggested on July 1, 2008, with a brief 
meeting and public handshake between Jalal Talabani, head of 
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and President of Iraq, and 
then Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The meeting occurred 
during the 23rd congress of the Socialist International (of which 
Israel's Labour Party and the PUK are members). 39 

America in Iraq and Israel in the occupied territories share 
the goal of undermining and de-legitimating national-minded 
resistance movements and independent-minded regimes. At the 
same time, they aim to bolster the power of regional clients to 
the frequent detriment of the societies they claim to represent. 
These objectives fit into a larger pattern of interests shaped by 
the American vision of global dominance, the Israeli goals of 
a greater Israel, and the aspirations of the multinational oil 
companies to regain more effective control of Middle East oil. The 
coming together of these powerful ideological forces produced 
the invasion of Iraq with its objective of state-ending and with 

Ending the Iraqi State 25 

all the disastrous consequences that have followed from it, most 
of all for Iraqis. 

The Contours of Cultural Destruction 

With an understanding of the ideologically-driven goal of 
dismantling the Iraqi state, we can now turn to an overview of 
the cultural and human costs of the policy as they are reflected 
in the facts on the ground. The magnitude of the destruction and 
its systematic character cannot possibly be explained as a series 
of unforeseen, unrelated, and/or tragic mishaps. In our collective 
view, the killings and destruction flowed from the inherently violent 
policy objective of remaking rather than reforming Iraq. To make 
this case, the devil is in the details, and those details are provided 
in the case study chapters that follow. Readers will find in these 
chapters a pattern of available, protective actions not taken. Even 
more striking in the record are the documented cases where the 
occupiers themselves fostered, facilitated, or directly engaged in 
the calculated destruction of Iraq's culture and the degrading of 
the intelligentsia who embodied it. In all cases readers will note 
the failure to judge these crimes worthy of serious investigation. 
This calculated neglect has left crimes against culture unreported, 
the dead unnamed, and all the crimes of cultural cleansing unin- 
vestigated. In short, we believe that a close look at the evidence 
makes the case that state-ending in Iraq did entail willful cultural 
cleansing. The counter arguments of accidents of chance or poor 
planning must be examined and laid to rest. They simply do not 
make reasonable sense of the facts on the ground as those facts 
are recorded and evaluated in the chapters that follow. 

According to Lebanese archaeologist, Joanne Farchakh, who 
assisted in the investigation of the stolen historical wealth from 
Iraq after the invasion, "Iraq may soon end up with no history." 40 
With the protective shield of the state and the educated elite 
removed, Iraq's incomparable cultural riches were an easy target. 
The military onslaught of US-led forces against the Iraqi state and 
society already weakened by twelve years of economic sanctions 
coincided with a multi-dimensional pattern of cultural cleansing. 

26 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Such cleansing began in the very early days of the invasion, with 
the wide-scale looting of all of the symbols of Iraqi historical 
and cultural identity. Museums, archaeological sites, palaces, 
monuments, mosques, libraries and social centers all suffered 
looting and devastation. They did so under the very watchful eyes 
of the occupation troops. American forces in Baghdad guarded 
only, and very carefully, the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which securely 
kept all oil data, as well as the Ministry of the Interior, where the 
potentially compromising files of Saddam's security apparatus 
were housed. 

On America's watch we now know that thousands of cultural 
artifacts disappeared during "Operation Iraqi Freedom." These 
objects included, no less than 15,000 invaluable Mesopotamian 
artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad, and many others 
from the 12,000 archaeological sites that the occupation forces, 
unlike even Saddam's despotic regime, left unguarded. 41 While 
the Museum was robbed of its historical collection, the National 
Library that preserved the continuity and pride of Iraqi history 
was destroyed by deliberate arson. As Nabil al-Takriti points out 
in Chapter 5, Iraqi and international cultural specialists knew the 
exact location of the most important cultural sites and so informed 
the occupiers. However, once the looting began, occupation 
authorities took no effective measures to protect them. 

Some 4,000 historical artifacts have been recovered, at times 
in inventive ways as when some Shi'ite clerics exhorted women 
"not to sleep with their husbands if looted objects were not 
returned." 42 However, many treasures were smuggled out of 
Iraq and auctioned abroad. These thefts often occurred with the 
help of foreigners who arrived with the occupation forces, like 
journalist and Middle East expert, Joseph Braude, 43 who was 
arrested at New York JFK International Airport with ancient 
Mesopotamian antiquities. Braude was sentenced to six months 
of house arrest and two years of probation. Priceless artifacts may 
have also been auctioned off on the Internet as forewarned by 
professor of anthropology at Arizona State University, Michael E. 
Smith. 44 On December 18, 2007, the BBC reported that a German 
archaeologist spotted stolen Iraqi antiquities on a Swiss eBay site. 

Ending the Iraqi State 27 

These priceless antiquities were auctioned at a starting bid of 
$US 360. 45 According to a recent update on the number of stolen 
artifacts by an expert archaeologist on Iraq, Francis Deblauwe, it 
appears that no less than 8,500 objects are still truly missing, in 
addition to 4,000 artifacts said to be recovered abroad but not 
yet returned to Iraq. 46 

During the Iran-Iraq war that raged for eight years neither 
side deliberately targeted the archaeological sites or the cultural 
resources of the other. There is no comparison between the 
impact of that war on Iraq's cultural treasures and the subsequent 
American-led invasion and the terrible destruction that followed. 
Consistent American failure to protect the Iraq's cultural treasures 
directly contravened the Geneva Convention stipulation that 
an occupation army should use all means within its power to 
guard the cultural heritage of the defeated state. 47 As a result, 
"legions of antiquities looters" emerged, and established mass- 
smuggling networks of armed cars, trucks, planes and boats to 
ship Iraq's plundered historical patrimony to the US, Europe and 
the Gulf region. 48 

The attitude of the US-led forces to this pillage was, at best, 
indifference. In 2003 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sneered 
at reports of widespread looting, glibly commenting that "stuff 
happens" during war while dismissing the looting as the under- 
standable targeting of the hated symbols of the ousted regime. 49 
Answering journalists' questions about the destructive chaos with 
disdain, Rumsfeld responded that 

very often the pictures are pictures of people going into the symbols 
of the regime, into the palaces, into the boats and into the Baath Party 
headquarters and into the places that have been part of that repression .... 
And while no one condones looting, on the other hand one can understand 
the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people 
who've had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be 
taking their feelings out on that regime. 50 

Representing the looting, arson and destruction of Iraq's heritage 
as "understandable" and almost "natural" and unavoidable 

28 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

under the "circumstances," as Rumsfeld does, contradicts the 
fact that 

For several months before the start of the Iraq war, scholars of the ancient 
history of Iraq repeatedly spoke to various arms of the US government 
about this risk. Individual archeologists as well as representatives of 
the Archaeological Institute of America met with members of the State 
Department, the Defense Department and the Pentagon. We provided 
comprehensive lists of archeological sites and museums throughout Iraq, 
including their map coordinates. We put up a website providing this same 
information. All of us said the top priority was the immediate placement 
of security guards at all museums and archeological sites. US government 
officials claimed that they were gravely concerned about the protection 
of cultural heritage, yet they chose not to follow our advice... and the US 
troops abused [archeological] sites themselves. 51 

In 2006 the American-sponsored Iraqi government, despite 
reports of a budget surplus in 2006 and a problem with unspent 
funds, cut the budget of the Antiquities Department. Its small task 
force was deprived of the necessary funds to pay for patrol-car 
fuel. This cut meant, for example, that the Antiquities Task Force 
sat in its offices attempting to fight looting that was taking place 
dozens of miles away at 800 archaeological sites in the province of 
Dhi Qar. 52 When outraged Iraqis, desperate to prod the Americans 
to action, told US forces that the Saddam regime had made looting 
of the heritage a capital offense, the occupation force declared 
irrelevantly that "we weren't going to fly helicopters over the 
sites and start shooting people." 53 The demand was not that the 
Americans adopt Saddam's methods but rather that they assume 
responsibility as international law required for protecting Iraq's 
incomparable treasures. Consistently, such exhortations fell on 
deaf ears. 

In the summer of 2004 world outrage over the pillaging of Iraq's 
cultural treasures seriously affected the international image of 
the Bush administration. At that point, USAID finally arranged a 
program, headed by Professor Elizabeth Stone, from Stony Brook 
University, to furnish Iraqi graduate students in archaeological 
studies with state of the art equipment. The aim was also to train 

Ending the Iraqi State 29 

Iraqi specialists in the most recent methods of the field from 
which they had been isolated when for the last two decades Iraq 
under Saddam was cut off from the rest of the world by the 
Anglo-American imposed sanctions. Several Iraqi students went 
to study in the US. However, one year later, the program was 
suddenly stopped. 54 While the US could afford to spend $US 1 
billion per day on its military machine in Iraq, the administration 
declined to spare few millions to enhance the training of Iraqi 
archaeological students and teachers who could help repair the 
Iraqi cultural patrimony. 

The failure of the US to carry out its responsibilities under 
international law to take positive and protective actions was 
compounded by egregious direct actions taken that severely 
damaged the Iraqi cultural heritage. Since the invasion in March 
2003, the US-led forces have transformed at least seven historical 
sites into bases or camps for the military. These desecrated sites 
include Ur, one of the most ancient cities in the world, which is 
said to be the birthplace of Abraham, father of the three great 
monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The 
brickwork of the Temple Ziggurat at the site of Ur, which Iraqis 
have preserved and maintained with national pride, are being 
damaged under the weight of American military equipment and 
the callous treatment of military forces. When Abbas al-Hussaini, 
then head of the Iraqi Board of Antiquities and Heritage and the 
author of Chapter 4 in this book, attempted to inspect the site 
of Ur in early 2007, the US military refused him access. Such 
has also been the fate of Babylon where a US military camp 
has irreparably damaged the ancient city. Such ancient sites are 
not Sunni, Shi'ite, Yazidi, or Christian, nor are they Turkoman, 
Kurdish or Arab - these historical sides are the Mesopotamian 
historical patrimony of all Iraqis. 55 

Such massive cultural destruction has a devastating impact on 
two distinct levels. The first pertains to all humanity because 
of Iraq's unique provenance of artifacts and monuments that 
record in a well documented, material way an unmatched sense 
of the continuity of human civilizations in this unique site. The 
second level is crucial to the Iraqi people and their distinctive 

30 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

historical identity, shaped by the way they understand their own 
history. Memory in all its forms, personal, cognitive, and social, 
provides the imaginative infrastructure of identity, whether of 
the individual or group, national or sub-national. 56 Memory 
evokes emotionally charged images as well as desires, which link 
one's past to the future through the present interpreted in light 
of recollection. However, memory is mortal in two senses: first 
it dies with the body; second, it changes through forgetfulness. 
Hence, memory, particularly people's or social memory, needs to 
be preserved actively to supply the continuity of social meaning 
from the past to the future. The preservation of memory is the 
function of museums and historical monuments. Museums are the 
storehouses of historical relics that nurture social memories, that 
is to say the imaginative recollection of past events. Monuments 
are the eyewitnesses to historical events. In all these ways, the 
Baghdad Museum was memory-objectified, not only of the 
Mesopotamian cradle of civilization but also for the Iraqi people. 
By selecting what to keep, display, and remember, the Baghdad 
Museum enacted the permanence and continuity of a culture and 
a nation since time immemorial, to which archaeological sites and 
monuments bear witness. The objects and artifacts were staged 
to trigger "memories in, and for multiple, diverse collectives," 
and "the memories become components of identity." 57 Without a 
framework of collective memory, there is no mode of articulation 
for individual memory. Individual memory requires the context 
of group identity which is inseparable from the history and 
cultural artifacts 58 that the Baghdad Museum, the Central Library 
in Baghdad and the monument sites once preserved. However 
questions of intent on the part of the occupiers are eventually 
resolved, the actual consequences of policies pursued in post- 
invasion Iraq, as Nabil al-Takriti argues in Chapter 5, can fairly 
be characterized as the destruction of cultural memory. 

This desecration of the past and undermining of contemporary 
social gains is now giving way in occupied Iraq to the destruction 
of a meaningful future. Iraq is being handed over to the disinte- 
grative forces of sectarianism and regionalism. Iraqis, stripped of 
their shared heritage and living today in the ruins of contemporary 

Ending the Iraqi State 31 

social institutions that sustained a coherent and unified society, 
are now bombarded by the forces of civil war, social and religious 
atavism, and widespread criminality. Iraqi nationalism that had 
emerged through a prolonged process of state-building and social 
interaction is now routinely disparaged. Dominant narratives now 
falsely claim that sectarianism and ethnic chauvinism have always 
been the basis of Iraqi society, recycling yet again the persistent 
and destructive myth of age-old conflicts with no resolution and 
for which the conquerors bear no responsibility. 

Destruction of Social Institutions 

Concomitant with the ruination of so many of Iraq's historical 
treasures has been the rampant destruction of Iraq's social and 
cultural institutions. Iraq's education system, once vaunted as the 
most advanced in the region, has suffered a patterned process of 
degradation and dismantling. Under the occupation, according 
to a report by the United Nations University (UNU) International 
Leadership Institute in Jordan: 

The devastation of the Iraqi system of higher education has been overlooked 
amid other cataclysmic war results but represents an important consequence 
of the conflicts, economic sanctions, and ongoing turmoil in Iraq ... . The Iraqi 
Academy of Sciences, founded in 1948 to promote the Arabic language and 
heritage, saw its digital and traditional library partially looted during the 
war and it alone needs almost one million dollars in infrastructure repairs 
to re-establish itself as a leading research centre. 59 

According to Jairam Reddy, director of the UNU, "some 84 
percent of Iraq's institutions of higher education have been 
burnt, looted, or destroyed. Some 2,000 laboratories need to 
be re-equipped and 30,000 computers need to be procured and 
installed nationwide." 60 

Immediately after the occupation of Iraq, the American 
authorities also imposed a new curriculum that removed any 
criticism of the US policy in the Middle East, as well as any 
reference to either the 1991 war or to Israeli policy in the occupied 
i. An estimated $US 62 billion was awarded to Creative 

32 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Associates Int. and $US 1.8 billion to Bechtel by USAID in April 
2003 to re-build Iraq's infrastructure, including schools and 
higher education institutions. However, these efforts have been 
plagued by shoddy construction, signaled by the frequent flooding 
of schools with sewage, by inadequate infrastructure, and the 
failure to replace outdated equipment and teaching materials. 
The rapidly deteriorating conditions and a complete failure to 
establish a functioning education system has produced a spiraling 
dropout rate of almost 50 percent. 61 Iraqi academic institutions, 
once leaders among universities and research centers in the rest 
of the Arab world, were instrumental in creating a strong Iraqi 
national identity after years of foreign colonization. The virtual 
collapse of Iraq's educational infrastructure has gutted the vehicle 
that had served to cement a unifying history in the public mind. 

Massive out-migration in the wake of the foreign invasion 
has undermined national coherence in even more direct and 
devastating ways. Between January and October 2007, the 
war in Iraq has displaced nearly 1 million Iraqis to Syria, in 
addition to the nearly 450,000 that had fled Iraq in 2006. The 
refugees come disproportionally from the educated middle class, 
who embodied this hard-won sense of national coherence. The 
literacy of refugee children is falling precipitously, which bodes 
ill for the next generation. Iraqi young women and girls are being 
forced by the destitution of their families into survival sex and 
organized prostitution. 62 

From the outset, something more ominous than displacement 
by the chaos of war was at work in Iraq. The mind of a unified 
nation is being killed in what Max Fuller and Dirk Adriaesens 
conclude in Chapter 7 has all the earmarks of a systematic 
campaign of targeted assassinations. While their work focuses 
on academics, they emphasize that the decimation of professorial 
ranks took place in the context of a generalized assault on Iraq's 
professional middle class, including doctors, lawyers, judges as 
well as political and religious leaders. The killings of over 400 
university professors took place at the hands of professional 
and able killers as the means and timing of the murders makes 
clear. By 2006, they report, some 2,500 faculty members had 

Ending the Iraqi State 33 

been killed, kidnapped, or intimidated into leaving the country 
or face assassination. To this date, there has been no systematic 
investigation of this phenomenon by the occupation authorities. 
Not a single arrest has been reported in regard to this terrorization 
of the intellectuals, as Dirk Adriaensens reports in Chapter 6. The 
inclination to treat this systematic assault on Iraqi professionals 
as somehow inconsequential is consistent with the occupation 
powers' more general role in the decapitation of Iraqi society. 
That aspect of post-invasion Iraq is best exemplified by the 
Bremer de-Ba'athification policy that had the effect of removing 
professional leadership cadres in the political, economic, and 
military spheres. It is less often remembered that this bureaucratic 
purging extended to the educational and cultural spheres with 
alarming consequences. As Dahr Jamail reports in Chapter 8, 
the end result of the purge of Ba'athists has been the almost 
complete and quite clearly deliberate destruction of Iraq's human 
capital. With a parallel argument, Philip Marfleet in Chapter 9 
examines the patterns of emigration from Iraq and concludes 
that they emerge as strong indicators of a purposive assault on 
the institutions and ideological resources of Iraq as a national 
society. This loss of intellectual capital will deprive Iraq of the 
professional cadres that reconstruction will require. 

It is simply untrue that the war planners could not have gauged 
the scale of responsibilities that occupation would entail or the 
resources that would be required to maintain order and protect 
human and cultural resources. Military sources had made it 
abundantly clear that the troop levels committed to maintaining 
responsible governance in post-invasion Iraq were completely 
inadequate. General Eric Shinseki was most explicit and precise 
in detailing the responsibilities the occupiers would assume by 
the invasion. What attracted most attention in Shinseki's remarks 
to congressional committees was his firm judgment that troop 
levels provided for post-invasion Iraq could not possibly fulfill the 
role they were assigned. "Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10- 
di vision Army," Shinseki cautioned with memorable succinctness. 
In comments to Senator Carl Levin in February 2003 Shinseki said 
clearly that "something on the order of several hundred thousand 

34 Cultural Cle 

soldiers" would be needed as an occupation force. Shinseki 
provided a prescient warning that ethnic tension might well spill 
over into civil war and that the task of providing basic security 
and services for the Iraqi people should not be underestimated. 
In less than 48 hours Shinseki's 38 years of military experience 
and two purple hearts were vaporized in the ridiculing reaction 
of Wolfowitz, himself innocent of any military background at 
all. The Deputy Defense Secretary pronounced that Shinseki's 
figures were "wildly off the mark." Shinseki was removed and 
his career sidelined until his appointment by President Barack 
Obama to the honorable, but low-profile, post of Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs. 63 

Nor is it true that the policy makers had no more reasonable 
and humane alternatives to the disastrous course taken. It is too 
often forgotten now that Paul Bremer was not the first American 
pro-consul. Nor were the destructive policies he pursued the first 
put on the table. There were alternatives to the engineered chaos, 
structural dismantling, and cultural cleansing over which Bremer 
presided. In early April 2003, the Pentagon appointed retired 
general Jay Garner as Head of the Office of Reconstruction and 
Human Assistance in Iraq (ORHA). He arrived in Baghdad on 
April 20, 2003, and drafted his "Unified Mission Plan" that aimed 
to minimize American intrusions. The basic foundation of his 
plan rested on a firm commitment to create and maintain a secure 
and stable environment of law and order from day one. Garner 
set the immediate goal of providing that provisions did reach the 
60 percent of Iraqis who depended on the Oil-for-Food Program 
that provided minimal support for Iraqis for whom that support 
was a life line. More generally, the Garner plan provided, among 
other things, that oil would remain in Iraqi hands, lower rank 
police officers would remain on paid, active duty, and the major 
bureaucratic, technocratic and judiciary institutions would be 
kept in place to carry out basic government functions. 64 In short, 
Garner proposed to use state institutions and Iraqi oil wealth to 
provide security for the people. He too was removed. 

Paul Bremer arrived in Iraq in early May to replace Garner. 
Bremer quite deliberately rejected and reversed Garner's 

Ending the Iraqi State 35 

stabilizing orientation. On May 10, 2003, Bremer drafted a 
memorandum to dissolve eleven key state institutions, including 
the National Assembly, as well as their affiliated offices, all military 
organizations, and the major military industries. With explicit 
blessings from the Pentagon, 65 the dissolution of these critical state 
structures was achieved by his first two orders issued on May 16 
and May 23. Order number one provided for de-Ba'athification, 
which meant the removal of all Ba'ath Party members, and not 
just the top leadership figures, from their positions. In practice, 
this order meant that the majority of the Iraqi work force was 
laid off without pay. In Saddam's Iraq, the state was the primary 
employer. One had to join the ruling Ba'ath Party to be eligible for 
positions. Membership in the party had less to do with ideological 
commitment or support for Saddam than with the necessity of 
earning a living. For the regime, the party was above all an 
instrument of absolute control. Bremer's de-Ba'athification stripped 
the professions, industry, and social projects of experienced and 
skilled personnel. Many simply collapsed while others limped 
along with greatly diminished competence. Bremer's order number 
two disbanded the army and its civil affiliates, also without pay. 
In both cases, pensioners as well were deprived of their income. 
What is clear in terms of stated intent and observable outcomes is 
that Bremer's policies quite consciously decapitated the country's 
governing elite and dismantled the major state institutions. 
Bremer's raft of 97 edicts in total disemboweled the middle class 
that cemented Iraqi society, and thrust some 15,500 researchers, 
scientists, teachers and professors into unemployment. The order 
to disband the army created approximately 500,000 jobless people 
with military experience. 

Predictably, a huge human pool of angry, pauperized Iraqis 
turned to the rising insurgency for redress. The occupation 
forces dampened down the emerging resistance with indiscrim- 
inate collective punishment that took on the character of yet 
another "shock and awe" that overwhelmed Iraqis and left them 
helpless and desperate. With the protective shield of the state 
removed, criminal elements of all descriptions moved to prey on 
the defenseless and disorientated population. The Iraqi people and 

36 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

their extraordinary cultural heritage were left unprotected and 
vulnerable. This policy of state-ending led to the fully predictable 
and willful cultural cleansing of Iraq. 

In the chapters that follow on the cultural destruction and targeted 
assassinations that have taken place in post-invasion Iraq the 
authors carefully weigh the record of conscious choices made 
that created precipitating conditions of chaos and lawlessness, 
of inaction in the face of attacks on cultural monuments and 
intellectuals when action was possible, and of documented direct 
actions by the occupying powers that had dire human and cultural 
consequences. In many cases our work first required simple and 
straightforward documentation of cultural artifacts destroyed, 
archaeological sites damaged, and intellectuals murdered. The 
occupying powers and the post-invasion governments that they 
installed have consistently shown no interest at all in keeping these 
records. They have shown even less inclination to investigate the 
crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice. This calculated 
disinterest, carefully documented in the chapters that follow, is 
itself revealing. 

We also report in these detailed case studies those occasions 
when official spokespersons or agents give overt expression to the 
pervasive inclination of the occupiers to view chaos and lawlessness 
as "creative" in the sense of providing opportunities to wipe the 
slate clean, to create new beginnings, or start over from scratch. 
This permissive attitude to destruction was justified by the vision 
of a new Iraq that would arise under American and British tutelage 
from the ruins of the old Iraq. Looting becomes privatization 
by direct, mass means in such an ideological framework. 
The destruction of cultural monuments is taken to represent 
constructive cleansing that prepares the ground for new building. 
There is even a silver lining to the demise of the old intelligentsia 
whose disappearance opens opportunities for a new generation 
of Iraqis with the "right" values and social < 

Ending the Iraqi State 37 

In the context of engineered chaos, the wanton degradation of 
Iraq's once vaunted educational and health systems represents an 
opportunity to begin again, unencumbered by the attachments 
to the old order that had generated those social services. As a 
result, the occupying authorities, as Nabil al-Takriti documents 
in Chapter 5, displayed a remarkably cavalier attitude to this 
deliberate destruction of Iraq's public infrastructure and its reserves 
of educated human resources to staff it. In the wake of sweeping 
privatization measures, Peter McPherson, senior economic advisor 
to the proconsul Paul Bremer, characterized the dismantling of 
the public sector as "shrinkage." 66 John Agresto, then director of 
higher education reconstruction for the occupation, described the 
devastation of Iraq's schools and universities as an "opportunity 
for a clean start." 67 

To make the case for cultural cleansing we cannot point to one 
single directive or policy statement, like Bremer's de-Ba'athification 
order for dismantling state structures or the new laws to remake 
the economy. For the cultural cleansing dimension of state- 
ending what we have instead is the painstaking accumulation of 
documented incident after incident. They add up, in our collective 
view, to a clear pattern that allows for a clear and reasoned 
judgment. We show how conditions of chaos resulted from actions 
taken or abstained from. We document how those conditions and 
the lawlessness they engendered were welcomed and rationalized 
in the interest of the Iraq yet to be made. Chaos, we show, released 
violent forces and impulses. Once released, those forces could not 
really be directed and kept purposeful so destructive behaviors 
became more and more erratic. The creativity in chaos is revealed 
to reside not so much in purposive destruction but rather in the 
removal of all obstacles - political, economic, cultural, and human 
- to ending the Iraqi state and beginning anew. 

Successive Iraqi states and regimes, whatever their shortcomings 
and at times terrible limitations, had nevertheless held together 
a layered and culturally rich nation. Iraq, as Mokhtar Lamani 
explains in Chapter 10, was an incredibly complex but fragile 
mosaic. It was formed not only of the three major ethnic and 
sectarian groupings on which the occupation forces o 

38 Cultural Cle 

but also of countless minority communities. In conditions of 
engineered chaos that intricate fabric that had persisted for 
thousands of years in embracing astonishing diversity was rent 
and perhaps destroyed forever. The major ethno-religious groups 
were deliberately separated out. With the bonds of national unity 
weakened, they were played one against the other. The small and 
vulnerable minorities were more often than not simply swallowed 
up in the turmoil. 

To refashion Iraq into the neo-liberal model for the Middle East 
it was first necessary to destroy in these ways Iraqi national identity 
and those social forces and cultural productions that expressed it. 
The occupiers acted in ways that clearly signaled that weakening 
of collective identity and the decimation of an intelligentsia with 
ties and mentalities linked to the old Iraq was not a loss at all. 
Rather, in the eyes of the occupiers it was an opportunity. It helped 
enormously that those placed in charge of Iraq's fate had little or 
no experience or knowledge of the country. Ignorance of the past 
and of the layered complexity of contemporary Iraqi society made 
it easy to look forward to turning the page. Iraq, after all, was a 
terrorist state and, somehow this small and battered country with 
its glorious cultural heritage was transformed into an existential 
threat to the West and to civilization itself. In such a climate, 
Iraq's culture was ravaged and its intellectual class decimated. In 
our considered view it is impossible for reasonable people to see 
it any other way, once they have reviewed the evidence laid out in 
the chapters to come. The pattern of cultural cleansing is etched 
in the facts on the ground of museums looted, libraries burned, 
and the most prominent and productive intellectuals systemati- 
cally eliminated. The occupiers showed no inclination at all to 
protect those cultural and human resources and they failed to do 
so, in violation of international and humanitarian law. Worse, 
at critical moments they contributed in substantial ways to the 
destruction, as for example, by the stationing of occupation troops 
in the midst of some of the nation's most important archaeologi- 
cal sites, thereby doing them great damage, as Abbas al-Hussainy 
documents in Chapter 4. These outcomes, we are persuaded, 
were not tragic, unintended consequences. The culture that was 

Ending the Iraqi State 39 

:d, as Zainab Bahrani explains in Chapter 3, was an Iraqi 
cultural patrimony in the first instance, destroyed in an occupied 
country on the watch of the occupiers, notably the United States 
and Britain. The intellectuals who were murdered and whose 
killings have not been investigated to this day represented some 
of the most productive and creative of the Iraqi intelligentsia who 
were educated, trained, and employed by the Iraqi state, as Dirk 
Adriaensens, Max Fuller and Dahr Jamail document in exacting 
detail in Chapters 6, 7 and 8. They were the human embodiment 
of the Iraqi state and thus fair targets for ending. They were 
killed not primarily for sectarian reasons, though such incidents 
did occur, but simply because they were the best of Iraqi brains 
as a careful review of the statistical evidence makes clear. These 
cultural erasures and eliminations represent a concerted effort 
to shatter Iraqi collective memory as an essential condition for 
state-ending. It seems clear to us from the evidence presented 
and weighed in the chapters that follow that these devastating 
outcomes represent the consequences, both direct and indirect, 
of an ideological, totalizing vision. That vision of state-ending 
required the dismantling not just of the old political and economic 
structures. It demanded as well the destruction of the cultural 
and human reserves of the Iraqi state, all in the interest of an 
imagined remaking. 

The war planners have told us that the violence of shock and 
awe was a gift to Iraqis. The putative aim was to end dictatorship 
and open the way to the dismantling of the tyrannical state that 
had terrorized the people of Iraq. From the beginning, critics 
have debunked these explanations and argued forcefully that the 
invasion aimed for domination. It is important to note, however, 
that all sides in that debate took for granted that the aim of the 
invasion was the violent remaking of the Iraqi state, whether 
for liberation or for domination. Today, in the United States 
and Britain, a self-referential debate centers on these issues of 
the motivations of American and British policy makers for the 
remaking of Iraq. Did the invasion aim to remake Iraq in order 
to bring freedom to Iraq and the Middle East beyond, as the neo- 
s would claim, or was the aim imperial doi 

40 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

the critics forcefully argue? Regrettably, with attention riveted on 
the ideological rationale for the invasion, the depredations suffered 
by Iraqis recede into the background, no matter which position 
is taken. What emerges out of this insular debate are questions 
of Anglo-American motives rather than a consideration of the 
actual consequences for Iraqi culture and humanity. Eyes glaze 
over when figures on Iraqi civilian casualties are debated. When 
the museums in Baghdad were looted and libraries burned, the 
world did pay attention, but not for long. The pillage in Baghdad 
was only the tip of the iceberg. Abbas al-Hussainy surveys the 
richness of the Iraqi cultural legacy in Chapter 4, noting that there 
are some 12,000 registered archaeological treasures within Iraq's 
borders. Tragically, as Abbas al-Hussainy concludes, no other 
nation in modern terms has ever suffered destruction of its cultural 
legacy comparable to what Iraq endured under occupation. But 
the occupiers and their publics at home found it hard to focus on 
the fate of Iraqi culture. As Zainab Bahrani explains in Chapter 3, 
the really catastrophic cultural devastation took place in the five 
years following the initial destruction in Baghdad. It eventually 
engulfed the whole country, though these prolonged acts of pillage 
have met with a remarkable silence and culpable inaction. Had 
there been any inclination to do so, there was ample time to put 
protective measures in place. This course of action was simply 
not taken and very few even noticed. 

Across the board, Iraq's unprotected cultural and social 
institutions were wantonly looted and in many cases irreparably 
damaged or destroyed. In these ways contemporary Iraq has been 
stripped both of its impressive historic past as well as its more 
recent social attainments. Iraq's modern institutions, in particular 
its once vaunted health and education infrastructure funded by 
the national oil industry, were degraded by initial bombardment 
and subsequent civil disorder. Dahr Jamail documents in Chapter 
8 the devastating consequences, pointing out that many medical 
and educational facilities in Iraq are barely operating with skeletal 
staffing and little supplies. Hard-won social gains, among the 
most advanced of Arab states, were then further undermined by 

Ending the Iraqi State 41 

the haphazard privatization and reform schemes of Iraq's self- 
appointed rulers. Iraq's human resources, notably its educated and 
technocratic classes, have also been seriously depleted, either by 
flight, forced exile, or assassination. Readers will find in Chapters 
6, 7 and 8, by Dirk Adriaensens, Max Fuller and Dahr Jamail, 
the most comprehensive and painstaking record and analysis of 
these human tragedies yet assembled. They provide as well a 
careful evaluation of the evidence for placing responsibility for 
this outcome on the shoulders of the occupiers. 

Those human and cultural outcomes on the ground in Iraq 
do matter, in the first instance for Iraqis and their prospects for 
the future. They also matter for American and British citizens 
who want to understand how and why power was exercised in 
their name and what responsibility they bear for its outcomes. 
The focus on the liberation versus domination debate obscures 
the fact that, whatever the motive, a totalitarian and inherently 
violent aim of state-ending was pursued. That deliberate policy 
had particularly devastating cultural and human consequences. 
Ending and remaking are inherently violent processes. Nation- 
building, as Glenn Perry points out in Chapter 2, implies a prior 
process of nation-destroying that we are inclined to overlook, even 
when considering our own Western history. Cultural identity is 
everywhere a component of state power and empires have always 
known that to weaken the collective identity of a people is to 
make them available for occupation, colonization, and worse. 
The destruction of archives and historical monuments, so wanton 
in Iraq, has always been part of the wars of empires, as Zainab 
Bahrani explains in Chapter 3. Everywhere in the modern world 
there is a strong and complex linkage between the intelligentsia and 
the state. Philip Marfleet explains in Chapter 9 that attenuating 
or breaking that connection and clearing out the old intelligentsia 
facilitates the pathway to a new Iraqi state of imperial design. 
Only when these implications of a totalizing war objective are 
ignored is it possible to entertain the facile explanations for the 
terrible destruction that has taken place in Iraq as the product of 
chance and lack of foresight. 

42 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 


The invasion and occupation of Iraq with its destructive assault 
on Iraq's cultural integrity, political unity, and economic capacity 
did destroy a state that claimed to represent Arab nationalism and 
opposition to Israeli expansionism. Yet today it is far less clear 
that the new realities that will emerge from the willed chaos that 
is Iraq today will in fact be as amenable to American and Israeli 
interests as the neo-conservatives and their Israeli allies dreamed. 
To be sure, they have removed Iraq as an Arab power able to 
mount a plausible Arab challenge to Israeli dominance, though not 
one that could seriously threaten Israel itself. However, in doing 
so they have released sub-national forces that are proving to be 
far less amenable to control from a distance than the ideologues 
imagined. Meanwhile, Iraq has been shattered and humanity 
diminished by that terrible spectacle of willed destruction. 

Iraq's national project has suffered the loss of its historical, 
intellectual, and cultural foundations. Once proud Iraq now 
risks becoming little more than a conglomerate of ethno- 
sectarian flefdoms, vulnerable to all kinds of foreign exactions 
and intrusions. War and occupation has ended for the foreseeable 
future any Iraqi aspirations of achieving an autonomous leadership 
role in the Arab world. 

In November 2007, the US administration and the dependent 
regime in Iraq signed a "Declaration of Principles," establishing an 
open-ended US military involvement in Iraq, and thus, the Persian 
Gulf. Key Bush administration officials, notably Vice President Dick 
Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, had from 
the outset aimed at permanent military bases in Iraq. However, the 
Iraqis proved far more resistant to these infringements on national 
sovereignty than anticipated. A year later, on November 17, 2008, 
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and US Ambassador Ryan 
Crocker signed a Status of Forces (SOF) agreement that stipulates 
in article 24 that all United States combat forces will withdraw 
from "Iraqi cities, villages and localities" no later than June 30, 
2009. Article 24 of the agreement explicitly provides that "all the 
United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no 

Ending the Iraqi State 43 

later than December 31, 2011." This provision seems to preclude 
US retention of long-term bases. However, at the time of writing 
there remains some ambiguity and a need for caution in drawing 
this conclusion in too definitive a way. The preamble to the SOF 
agreement does suggest that not all loopholes have been closed. 
The preamble, it should be noted, speaks of the United States and 
Iraq "strengthening their joint security... combating terrorism 
in Iraq, and cooperating in the security and defense spheres...." 
It will be up to the Obama administration to define with the 
Iraqis exactly what will be the nature of any longer-term security 
relationship between the US and Iraq. 68 

Meanwhile, it is already clear that the American mission in 
Iraq, designed to create a pro-American model for the region and 
a bulwark against anti-American militancy, has achieved precisely 
the opposite. The defeat of Iraq was supposed to illustrate how 
instructional violence could intimidate and de-legitimate the 
region's so-called "rogue states." Instead, the policies driven by 
neo-conservatism, Israel, and the oil conglomerates ironically 
served to empower Iran, the one regional power best positioned to 
resist all of those pressures and now the "rogue state" of choice. 
Iran's regional status has risen in ways unimaginable without this 
backdrop of failed imperial policies. The Iranian threat is now on 
the table and the pro-American authoritarian regimes in Egypt, 
Saudi Arabia, and Jordan have helped put it there. Predictably, 
however, Israelis lead the chorus for regime change in Tehran. The 
Obama administration has been ambivalent in its statements on 
Iran, though there have been positive initiatives. Most recently, 
on March 19, 2009 - in commemoration of the Persian Nowruz 
festivel - President Obama called for "diplomacy that addresses 
the full range of issues before us, and to pursue constructive ties 
among the United States, Iran and the international community. " 
However the relationship with Iran develops, the debacle in Iraq 
has permanently stained US democracy-promotion as simply 
a cover for a particularly violent and destructive ambition for 
empire. Meanwhile, in the deplorable reaction to the legitimate 
election of Hamas in Palestine, American and Israeli dedication to 
the principles of democracy in the region have been exposed once 

44 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

again as a cruel chimera. It would be premature to believe that 
the policy of ending states has itself ended with the passing of the 
Bush administration. Our need to understand fully the meaning 
and implications of that policy of state-ending, as enacted in Iraq, 
is unfortunately as compelling as ever. 

1. For an assessment of the various estimates, see Chapi 
and 8. 

2. For discussion of cultural cleansing as a dimension of dot 
in comparative perspective see Chapter 2 by Glenn Perry. 

3. Tina Susman, "Poll: Civilian Toll in Iraq may top 1M," Los 
J / T " n ptember 14, 2007, 
nationworld/\vorld/la-ig-iraql4sep 14,0,6 134240. story, accessed 
December 2008. 

4. "The War Behind Closed Doors: Excerpts from 1992 Draft 
'Defense Planning Guidance'," TBS: Frontline, 
wgbli/pagcs/frontlinc/shows/iraq/ctc/wolf.html, accessed December 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Thomas Domiell \ Defense r > 
and Resources for a New Century, Washington: Project for a New 
American Century, September 2000, p. ii. 

8. Ibid., pp. 16, 21, 23, 26, 47, 86, 88. 

9. Ibid., p. 16. 

10. Ibid., p. 26. 

11. Ron Suskind, The Trice of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White 
House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill, New York: Simon & 
Schuster, 2004, p. 85. 

12. Richard Perle (Study Group Lead), A Clean Break: A New Strategy 

i the 1 In The Institute for Advanced Strategic and 

Political Studies' "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 
2000,", accessed December 2008. 

13. See Richard Falk, "Israeli War Crimes," Agence Globale, March 
14, 2009. 

14. The background on death squads and the evidence for their role in 
Iraq is discussed and evaluated in Chapters 6, 7 and 8. 

15. See the 1996 Gary Webb "Dark Alliance" articles in the San Jose 
Mercury News, later compiled in Gary Webb, Dark Alliance: The 

Ending the Iraqi State 45 

CIA, the Contnis, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion (Seven Stories 
Press, 1999). 

16. David Corn, "From Iran-Contra to Iraq," TheNation,May7,2005,, accessed 
March 2009. 

17. Pater Maass, "The Way of the Commandos," New York Times, 
May 1, 2005, 
01ARMY.html, accessed March 2009. 

18. "Iraq 'Death Squad Caught in Act'," BBC News, February 16, 2006,, accessed 
March 2009. 

19. Maass, "The Way of the Commandos." 

20. Nir Rosen, "The Myth of the Surge," Rolling Stone, May 6, 2008, 
of_the_surge/print, accessed March 2008. 

21. Foreign Policy, "Study: Surge of Violence Led to Peace in Iraq," 
Foreign Policy: Passport, September 18, 2008, http://blog. 
to_peace_in_iraq, accessed March 2008. 

22. Sue Pleming, "US Plans 'Substantial' Pledge at Gaza Meeting," 
Reuters, February 23, 2009, 
20090223/pl_nm/us_palestinians_clinton_4, accessed March 

23. David Rose, "The Gaza Bombshell," Vanity Fair, April 2008,, 
accessed March 2008. 

24. Gerry Shih and Susana Montes, "Roundtable Debates Energy 
Issues: All-star panel calls for climate change research, market 
solutions," The Stanford Daily, October 15, 2007. 

25. Dick Cheney, "Full text of Dick Cheney's speech at the Institute of 
Petroleum Autumn lunch 1999," London Institute of Petroleum, 
June 8, 2004,, accessed 
December 2008. 

26. United States Department of Iraq, "Oil and Energy Working 
Group," Future of Iraq Project, 
NSAEBB/NSAEBB198/FOI%20Oil.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

27. Gal Luft, "How Much Oil Does Iraq Have?" Brookings 
Institute, May 12, 2003, 
0512globalenvironment_luft.aspx, accessed December 2008. 

28. "Hamas Is a Creation of Mossad," I Hu la iti Summer 2002,, accessed March 

46 Cultural Cleans 

29. Notwithstanding formal peace between Israel and Egypt, a poll 
conducted in 2006 found that 92 percent of Egyptians saw Israel 
as a "hostile" nation. See: 

30. Amir Oren, "British Author: Rabin asked Jordan to arrange secret 
visit with Saddam," Haaretz, February 27, 2009, http://www., accessed March 2009. 

31. Ibid. 

32. Yitzhak Benhorin, "Doug Feith: Israel didn't push for Iraq war," 
Ynet, May 13, 2008, 
html, accessed March 2008. 

33. Julian Borger, "The Spies who Pushed for War," Guardian, July 
17, 2003,, 
accessed March 2009. 

34. Seymour Hersh, "Moving Targets," The New Yorker, December 15, 
fact, accessed March 2009. 

35. Seymour Hersh, "Plan B," The New Yorker, June 28, 2004, http://, accessed 
March 2009. 

36. Hoshnag Ose, "A Secret Relationship," Niqash, September 8, 
2008. ?contentTypeID=758dd 
=2285&lang=0, accessed March 2009. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Institut Kurde de Paris, "Iraqi Kurdistan Unifies its Administration 
with a Single Government," Institut Kurde de Pans 254, May 2006, 
p. 2, 
html, accessed March 2009. 

39. Associated Press, "Historic Handshake: Barak Meets Iraq's 
President in Athens," Haaretz, July 1, 2008, http://www.haaretz. 
com/hasen/spages/997941.html, accessed March 2009; for a critical 
assessment, see Ramzy Baroud, "The Not-so-Historic Barak- 
Talabani Handsliaki ( mntcrp it h, July 11, 2008, http://www., accessed March 2009. 

40. Robert Fisk, "It is the Death of History," Independent, September 
17, 2007, 
fisk/robert-fisk-it-is-the-death-of-history-402571.html, accessed 
March 2008. 

41. Cara Buckley, "Rare Look Inside Baghdad Museum," New York 
Times, December 12, 2007, 
9d472df2fb&ei=5087%0A, accessed December 2008. 

Ending the Iraqi State 47 

42. Simon Jenkins, "In Iraq's four-year looting frenzy, the allies 
have become the vandals," Guardian, June 8, 2007, http://www.,2098273,00.html, accessed December 

43. Guy Gugliotta, "Looted Iraqi Relics Slow to Resurface; Some 
Famous Pieces Unlikely to Re-appear," Washington Post, 
November 8, 2005, 
content/article/2005/ll/07/AR20051 10701479.html, accessed 
December 2008. 

44. Dr. Michael E. Smith, "This is not the 'Antiques Roadshow'," inml, accessed 
December 2008. 

45. "eBay Iraq Relic Auction Stopped," BBC News, December 18, 
2007,, accessed 
December 2008. 

46. Dr. Francis Deblauwe, "The Iraq War and Archaeology," Institute 
of Oriental Studies, University of Vienna, Austria, http://iwa.univie. 
ac. at/site. html, accessed December 2008. 

47. Jenkins, "In Iraq's four-year looting frenzy, the allies have become 
the vandals." 

48. Fisk, "It is the Death of History." 

49. Sean Loughlin, "Rumsfeld on looting in Iraq: 'stuff happens' 
- Administration asking countries for help with security," CNN, 
April 12, 2003, 
pentagon/, accessed December 2008. 

50. Ibid. 

51. Zainab Bahrani, "Looting and Conquest," The Nation, May 14, 
2003,, accessed 
December 2008. 

52. Robert Fisk, "Another Crime of Occupation Iraq: Cultural Heritage 
Looted, Pillaged." Independent, September 17, 2007, http://www., accessed December 2008. 

53. Gugliotta, "Looted Iraqi Relics Slow to Resurface." 

54. Francis Deblauwe, "Mesopotamian Ruins and American Scholars," 
August 2005, http://\v\v\ 
Mesopotamian_Scholars.htm, accessed December 2008. 

55. Felicity Arbuthnot, "Iraq: Erasing History," Global Research, 
April 14, 2007, 
iewArticle&code=20070414&articleId=5384, accessed December 

56. All of the case study chapters that follow deal with the destruction 
of memory in post-invasion Iraq as a feature of willful cultural 
cleansing that aims to weaken or destroy collective identity. The 

48 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

evidence for such destruction as conscious policy is carefully 
evaluated in these detailed studies. 

57. Susan A. Crane (ed.), Museums and Memory, Stanford: Stanford 
University Press, 2000, p. 3. 

58. Ibid., pp. 6, 12. 

59. Quoted by Ghali Hassan, "The Destruction of Iraq's Educational 
System under US Occupation," May 11, 2005, http://www., accessed December 

60. Ibid. 

61. Ibid. 

62. Juan Cole, "Informed Comment," December 20, 2007, http://, accessed December 2008. 

63. Mark Thompson, "Shinseki, a Prescient General, Re-Enlists as 
VA Chief," Time, December 8, 2008, 

64. "A unified Mission Plan for post-hostilities Iraq," http://www.pbs. 
on nil i s /from] qc/n i i i lo in /orha lm il 

65. For details of Bremer's memo, see: 

66. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2007, 
p. 406. 

67. Ibid., p. 407. 

68. See Patrick Seale, "Iraq's Rocky Future," Agence Globale, 
November 24, 2008. 



Glenn E. Perry 

The horrific destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage as the country 
came under foreign occupation in 2003, whether one attributes it 
to calculated policy or to reckless incompetence, ignorance, and 
contempt, reenacted experiences of those who have undergone 
subjugation throughout history. One can find many other examples 
of this phenomenon in recent memory. The destruction of such 
aspects of a people's culture as monuments, ancient manuscripts, 
languages, religions, historical narratives, and identities constitutes 
what a recent work on the subject of architecture in particular 
so aptly terms "the destruction of memory." Sometimes this 
destruction is the byproduct of achieving military objectives; 
mere "collateral damage." However, the destruction of buildings, 
sculptures, documents, artifacts and the like is connected to a 
people's memory and identity. Their erasure is intended as a means 
of dominating, terrorizing, dividing or eradicating. It has been 
suggested that this kind of "genocide by other means" should be 
included in the broader crime of genocide. 1 

In destroying memory, conquerors hope to stifle future 
resistance. With memory of the self gone, there may no longer be 
a desire to end subjugation. Even if the victims' memory survives, 
the subjugators may hope to remove evidence of their ties to the 
land and construct distorted historical narratives to the extent that 
their own people as well as outside observers will have difficulty 
even comprehending calls for redress. 

50 Cultural Cleansi 

The Cleansing of Civilizations 

Cultures have come and gone throughout the course of human 
;. This is true of the largest cultural units, which historians 
rily have designated as "civilizations." Sometimes it is 
argued that each passes through the same kind of stages from 
birth to death much like an organism. At other times the fate of 
civilizations is presented as having an open-ended existence. In 
any case, history has been a graveyard for civilizations. A long- 
lived one such as that of ancient Egypt finally demonstrated its 
mortality although it bequeathed many of its genes to later ones 
in the Middle East and Europe. At least in Toynbee's classifi- 
cation, the ancient Syriac and Hellenic civilizations made way 
for new societies, the Islamic and the Western and Orthodox 
Christian respectively. 

Today there is reason to believe that a variety of distinct 
civilizations are surviving, and some argue that healthy 
"modernization" does not require giving up civilizational identity 
- even that such attempts to Westernize are unhealthy. 2 It was not 
long ago that one such civilization, the "Western," was seen as 
replacing them, all of which were dead or in the process of dying as 
the "inevitable" process of Westernization took its course. There 
was a widespread assumption that Western imperialism, through 
its conquests and then by demonstrating that Westernization was 
the only option for those who wanted to get on in the world, had 
made such divisions obsolete. Or else, it was said that all past 
civilizations, including the Western and the Islamic, had now made 
way for a single "Modern Technological" one. 3 Quincy Wright 
wrote in his classic Study of War that there now "is only one 
civilization." 4 While giving credit to the contributions of other 
civilizations, Wright opined that "This civilization has gradually 
destroyed, or incorporated with some adaptations" all of the 
others, leaving "distinctive nationalities in their place" and that 
while "the ghosts of several old civilizations still mediate between 
the nations and the world-community, ...these ghosts are in the 
process of evaporation." 

Cultural Cleansing in Compara 

The Cleansing of Peoples 

Cultures on national and sub-national levels are always fading 
away in large numbers. According to a recent report, nearly half 
of the world's 7,000 languages will probably become extinct, at 
a faster rate than that of living species, by the end of the twenty- 
first century. One such language ceases to be spoken during a 
typical fortnight. 5 

While much of this has been unplanned, it reflects the relative 
power of different groups. The languages of those who dominate 
the world militarily, politically, and economically have tended 
to spread, while those of weaker peoples die out. Their societies 
are flooded with colonial settlers, as states use other languages 
in administration and in education, and as the tongues of the 
dominant groups are heard on the radio and television. Many 
times, the dominant group consciously adopts assimilationist 
policies that penalize the use of minority languages precisely in 
order to promote the sort of homogeneity that will bolster a 
common identity and thus facilitate maintaining its own power 
and domination. 

Sometimes assimilation comes about through the working of 
more subtle processes that nevertheless reflect the influence of 
those who wield military and commercial domination, as in the 
case of people gradually adopting the religion of their conquerors 
as way of enhancing their prospect of obtaining the patronage 
of their rulers and also in order to facilitate contact with those 
who have come to dominate trade. 6 Colonial policies varied. The 
French persistently had the goal of Gallicizing subject peoples. 
Some of the colonized peoples became more proficient in French 
than in their own indigenous tongues, and a French identity 
was pushed on them. Under French rule, history textbooks used 
by Algerian children famously started with the phrase, "Our 
rs, the Gauls..." 7 

Building and Destroying Nations 

Insofar as some states are also nations, this is almost entirely 
the result of assimilationist policies that brought the cultural 

52 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

or even physical demise of different groups. As Walker Conner 
put the matter in his classic article on the subject, what many 
writers so glibly term "nation-building," if successful, might more 
meaningfully be dubbed "nation-destroying." 8 We often hear of 
the contrast between Western countries and the Developing World 
in terms of much greater heterogeneity in the latter. However, 
aside from those countries that resulted from the breakup of 
multinational entities along ethnic lines during the twentieth 
century, few countries in Europe were linguistically homogeneous 
when they came into being. Lucian W Pye pointed out that 
"regional and linguistic differences had to be overcome" even 
in such cases as Britain and France that eventually developed 
"exceedingly high levels of national consciousness." 9 In some 
cases, particularly in the last century, ethnic homogeneity was 
helped along by ethnic cleansing. Where actual expulsion or 
extermination did not take place, the process of cultural cleansing 
extended over the course of several centuries. 

Sometimes there were small holdouts. As Conner points out in 
distinguishing between cultural and psychological assimilation, 
a person "can shed all of the overt cultural manifestations 
customarily attributed to his ethnic group and yet maintain his 
fundamental identity." 10 The Celtic peoples of the British Isles lost 
their languages for the most part, although they retained some of 
their separate identities, leading in recent decades to the emergence 
of separatist nationalist parties in the cases of the Welsh and 
the Scots. With their identity marked by a sectarian distinction 
from their Protestant British rulers and by centuries of suffering 
from discrimination and Protestant settler colonialism, the Irish 
adopted a fierce nationalism that led to the independence of most 
of their island in 1920. They tried, but never really succeeded in 
the formidable task of reviving their old tongue. France looks 
like an almost pure ethnic, national state (aside from a few areas 
in which some people still speak their regional languages and, of 
course, recent immigrants). However, only a lack of knowledge 
of the history of the country would lead anyone to think that 
its boundaries emerged as a result of an early form of self- 
determination on the part of those who already spoke French. 

Cultural Cleansing in Comparative Perspective 53 

It has been estimated that in 1861, when Italy was being united, 
"the Italian common tongue was used primarily in written and 
formal discourse" except in Rome and Tuscany and that "only 
2.5 percent of the population employed it easily and habitually," 
increasing to about "40 percent by 1900. " n 

Whether in Europe or Africa, the process of linguistic and ethnic 
assimilation does not proceed so easily today. Anderson et al. 
point out that, "before the self-awareness of many cultural groups 
had become intense, this method was no doubt highly efficacious" 
but that after a group "has achieved self-awareness, assimilation 
is likely to encounter bitter resistance." 12 Contrary to the usual 
assumption of modernization theorists of the 1960s, perceptive 
analysts began to see that processes such an urbanization, increased 
literacy, and growth of mass media are likely to intensify ethnic and 
linguistic particularism rather than result in "nation-building." 13 
While assimilation was widespread before the rise of nationalism 
in the nineteenth century among people who "were not aware 
of belonging to a separate culture-group with its own proud 
traditions and myths," there have been no recent examples of such 
on a large scale in recent times. 14 Indeed, while some governments 
have been committed to creating national homogeneity through 
banning the use of regional languages and cultural expressions, 
as in the case of the Kurds in Turkey, whose identity was long 
denied in favor of the euphemistic term "Mountain Turks," the 
bulk of the Kurds have resisted such attempts to cleanse their 
culture and identity. Although a few people of Kurdish origin 
have taken advantage of the opportunity to cleanse themselves 
of their ancestors' culture and gain full equality as Turks, even 
those who have migrated to places such as Istanbul or Ankara 
and, for that matter, Berlin and lost their ability to speak Kurdish 
have mostly clung to a Kurdish identity. 

In some cases, cultural assimilation to the predominant 
"national" language and culture exists alongside a toleration 
of regional distinctiveness. Thus the Azeris, a Turkic-speaking 
people who make up a major portion of the population of Iran 
(sometimes estimated as one-third of the total), have historically 
been little affected by separatist nationalism. 15 There has been 

54 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

some speculation that this may change and that the independence 
of Azerbaijan next door may threaten Iranian unity. One reason 
for the ability of Iranian nationalism to transcend such linguistic 
diversity is that the Azeris, unlike some other Iranian ethnic 
minorities, share Shi'ism with the Persians. Indeed, modern Iran 
is the creation of a Turkic dynasty from Azerbaijan, the Safavids, 
who imposed Shi'ism on the Persians in the sixteenth century, 
and Turkish dynasties reigned in Iran until the coming of the 
Pahlavis in 1925. However, much of the explanation for the 
weakness of Azeri separatism can be attributed to the fact that 
the Azeris' embrace of the Persian lingua franca is matched by a 
willingness of the Iranian state to allow them to continue to use 
their provincial tongue too. It is reported that, notwithstanding 
their integration into the Iranian national identity, Azeris and also 
Gilanis and others whose vernaculars are distinct from Persian 
always use their own languages when no outsiders are present. 16 
The cultural autonomy that Iraq allowed to its Kurds, in contrast 
to the Turkish case, might also have facilitated unity had outside 
powers not been so eager to cultivate separatism. 

Crimes Against Culture: The Former Yugoslavia 

As Yugoslavia came apart during the 1990s, the phrase "ethnic 
cleansing" gained fame throughout the world. Killing and 
expulsion were at the center of this terrible process. Cultural 
cleansing also played a key role. The destruction of the Stari Most 
bridge, dating back to Ottoman times and serving as a symbol 
of the long united community, has been described as "an attack 
on the very concept of multi-ethnicity." Thousands of Ottoman 
monuments in Bosnia were destroyed, for "libraries, museums, 
Islamic schools, tombs and fountains were the enemy." 17 While this 
aspect of ethnic cleansing understandably received less attention 
than did deaths, one Croatian writer expressed his feeling that 
while people are mortal, the great monuments to the past are 
expected to live forever: 

Cultural Cleansing in Comparative Perspectiv 

Overlooking these attacks on cultural patrimony and failing to understand 
their direct links to the cultural survival of a people risks setting aside some 
of the very attributes that give meaning to a group identity. More than 
this, where a group is under physical attack, the destiny of its representa- 
tive architecture is an excellent indicator of whether genocidal intent is 
present or incipient. 18 

Such cultural cleansing was intended to make ethnic cleansing 
"permanent and irreversible." 19 After destroying 20,000 to 40,000 
Islamic monuments in Bosnia, Serbian nationalists were then able 
to argue that no such thing had ever existed in these places. Even 
Muslim cemeteries were destroyed as a form of "retroactive ethnic 
cleansing." "History was being rewritten; a new future and a new 
past were being invented in the service of a Greater Serbia and a 
Greater Croatia." 20 That was the main purpose of the destruction, 
little of which was carried out for "purely military reasons." 21 

Crimes Against Culture: Palestine 

In many ways, Palestine in the twentieth century was unique, 
although the parallels between what happened in that country 
and in Bosnia are compelling. 22 In this case, a settler community 
claiming to be "returning" to its ancient homeland carried out 
an incredible sort of ethnic cleansing of most of the country's 
indigenous population, including all but a small minority within 
the frontiers of the new State of Israel established during 1948- 
49. In doing so, the settler state erased much of the evidence 
of the people they displaced, as though to make it seem that 
the new society had been established on a land that had been 
empty. Although in the additional territories that Israel occupied 
in 1967 the process of cleansing and settling faced the obstacle of 
"natives" who in most cases were difficult to uproot or extirpate, 
some successes for the colonial enterprise were registered there 
too. One such case was the replacement, immediately following 
the 1967 conquest, of the newly cleansed Palestinian village of 
Imwas, near Jerusalem, by a park. The "virginal appearance of the 
rocky hillside laced with narrow wadis" was noted in the Israeli 

56 Cultural Clean; 

press, evoking the sarcastic response of a writer in Haaretz, who 
opined that the park would be a great place for Jewish children to 
play and learn about how bad the Arabs who had "abandoned" 
it were. The same article warned that the children should not be 
allowed to dig lest they find "the remains of houses that had been 
destroyed. . . although if that happened it would always be possible 
to pass it off by explaining that they were in fact the remains of a 
12th Century synagogue." 23 Although the Jewish National Fund, 
the organization that obtained control over confiscated Arab land, 
agreed in 2005 to put up signs noting the location of this and 
some other villages, they were soon removed. There was another 
agreement three years later to place commemorative markers for 
several such sites. 24 

Meron Benvenisti provides a remarkable account of the way the 
physical landscape of Palestine was destroyed as "the inevitable 
outcome of the eradication of the human landscape." 25 He predicts 
that soon "the vanished Arab landscape will be considered just 
a piece of Arab propaganda." 26 

All that is left of the dispossessed, replaced former population 
in many places is 

a few layers of withered stone, a half-buried arch, a broken millstone. In 
some places a few structures still remain - neglected mosques, school 
buildings, imposing houses renovated by Israelis-and seven villages 
completely escaped destruction because Israelis found them picturesque 
enough to preserve. 27 

In the case of one large house that recently was restored, 
publications made available to visitors relate its history and that of 
the village in which it was located, going back to ancient times, but 
conveniently skip "the period in which it was an Arab/Palestinian 
village, and what happened to its residents." 28 With cartography 
being used as a powerful instrument of cultural cleansing, even 
new place names were artificially devised to remove the memory 
of the former inhabitants. At times, sites were given biblical- 
sounding names to create a myth of continuity with the a 
Israelites. 29 Benvenisti suggests that 

Cultural Cleansing in Compara 

this immense effort to eradicate the non-Hebrew heritage arose from 
a sense of the rootedness and power of the Arabic names, which, if not 
extirpated, were liable to imperil the new map. This was not a show of 
contempt for the Arabic heritage. On the contrary, it was a declaration 
of war on it. The effort the Zionists invested in this project is proof of 
their recognition that the Arabic shadow-map. ..would remain very much 
in existence as long as there were people living in this land who took care 

Benvenisti points out that many of the Arabic place names were 
ancient, often derived from Hebrew, and that the Zionists, who 
otherwise would not have known the location of places after two 
millennia, demonstrated "sheer ingratitude" by trying to wipe out 
the Arab heritage of the country. 31 He notes that this procedure 
represents a kind of "ethnic cleaning" by inventing totally artificial 
names from scratch and that he can find few parallels for "such 
radical alterations of the map" elsewhere in the world. 32 

As in Bosnia and elsewhere, "cleansing" in Palestine extends 
to the remains of the dead and the memory that they inhabited 
the land too. With regard to the destruction of Muslim graves in 
Jerusalem and the way "the protests of the Muslim clergy were 
ignored," Benvenisti noted that "Preservation of the dignity of the 
dead, like that of the living, is a matter of religious affiliation." 33 
According to Benvenisti, "Of the hundreds of Muslim cemeteries 
extant before 1948 [in the area within what was to become the 
"green line"], vestiges of only about 40 are still discernible, 
while others made way for roads, homes, and the like, and still 
bulldozers leave shattered tombstones, open graves, and human 
bones rolling around." 34 A decision to relocate Jaffa's only 
remaining Muslim cemetery in 2008 shows the continuing nature 
of this process. 35 Shrines commemorating the graves of medieval 
Muslim saints were in many cases appropriated by the Zionists 
and reconsecrated as tombs of Old Testament figures. 36 In an 
act of perhaps unprecedented chutzpah, the Simon Wiesenthal 
Center chose a centuries-old Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem as 
the site of its Museum of Tolerance in 2008, a decision that the 
Supreme Court gave the green light for over Muslim protests. 37 

58 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Thus facts increasingly are being destroyed to avoid reminding 
later generations that this was not a land without a people before 
the arrival of the Zionists and to create a fictional continuity 
between the modern state of Israel and the ancient Israelites. 

Some Palestinians and other Muslims and Arabs fear the 
prospect of their holy places in Jerusalem being cleansed. 
Archaeological excavations have involved the use of bulldozers 
in close proximity to the Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest place 
for Muslims. If such actions were to lead to the destruction of 
Al-Aqsa Mosque, this would "crown the Israeli cleansing of the 
Palestinian cultural structure." 38 

The European Zionists who cleansed Palestine subsequently 
proceeded to bring in Jews from the non-Western countries too. 
These latter-day recruits to the Zionist project, who, at least 
until the large influx of immigrants from Russia in the 1990s, 
would eventually outnumber the original European settlers, also 
became victims of cultural cleansing. Such treatment has left a 
bitter legacy for many Mizrahi (Oriental) Jews that is shown in 
the way they revolted against the Mapai/Labour Party which 
dominated the state in its early decades and fueled the eventual rise 
to predominance of the rightist Likud bloc, but among a few at 
least, as shown by the emergence of the Black Panther movement 
in the 1970s, it created an aversion to Zionism and identifica- 
tion with the Arab world. Writing about her concern over the 
rise of a Mizrahi variant of the post-Zionist movement of Jewish 
Israelis who challenge the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, 
a militant Israeli spokesperson, Meyrav Wurmser, tells us about 
one Sephardic Israeli poet, Sami Shalom Chetrit, who proclaims 
himself "a Palestinian" and "an Arab refugee." 39 According to 
Wurmser, the continuing Mizrahi "fury" results not just from the 
events of the mid twentieth century, when they were subjected 
to such indignities as having their heads shaved and their bodies 
sprayed with DDT when they entered the country, the "enforced 
secularization," the humiliation of "the patriarch" by reduced 
status, and "the state-sponsored kidnapping" of children (see 
below) but also from "the extent to which, in their view, the 
Zionist narrative denied, erased, and excluded their historical 

Cultural Cleansing in Compara 

identity." She points to various Israeli writers who expressed 
utter contempt for such "primitive people" and about "genetic 
inferiority" and admits that David Ben-Gurion deemed them 
totally devoid of "the most elementary knowledge" and warned 
about the danger of his society being corrupted by Arabization 
and "the spirit of the Levant." The author explains that this 
occurred despite the fact that they were "largely literate," with 
"most men and even some women" able to "read the Torah." 

In many cases involving children of Yemeni origin (and possibly 
others from Middle Eastern countries), the Zionists' enthusiasm for 
cleansing their non-Western co-religionists of what were deemed 
undesirable cultural attributes arguably crossed the line into the 
realm of genocide, which in Article II of the convention of 1948 
that declared this a crime includes, inter alia, "Forcibly transferring 
children of the group to another group." Approximately 50,000 
Yemeni Jews migrated to Israel during 1949-50, and at least 
several hundred - some put the figure in the thousands - of their 
babies, ironically paralleling a practice established in Yemen 
during the 1920s whereby the state raised Jewish orphans as 
Muslims, 40 were put in hospitals or nurseries from which they 
subsequently disappeared. With their desperate parents told that 
they had died, the babies were turned over for adoption by Jews 
of European origin, including Holocaust survivors. Parents were 
shown "graves" of the missing children almost half a century later, 
but when the "graves" were opened, it was found that no bodies 
were buried there. Some of the Yemeni Israelis argue that this 
was part of a deliberate policy, with "perfectly healthy" children 
forcibly hospitalized as part of the plan. Israeli apologists deny 
the existence of "an organized conspiracy" but admit that "there 
was a condescending attitude toward" the Yemenis that stressed 
the need for "absorption through modernization, by inculcating 
the values of Western society" in which "The parents were treated 
like primitive people who didn't know what was good for them, 
who aren't capable of taking care of their own kids." 41 One Israeli, 
writing in Haaretz and later quoted by William Pfaff, explained that 
the Yemeni Jews' "primitivism touches the limits" and that "They 
are hardly superior to Arabs, or Blacks, or other barbarians." 42 

60 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

According to one interpretation, the European Zionists 
themselves were victims of their own cultural cleansing. Michael 
Selzer traces the origins of Zionism back to the eighteenth century 
Eastern European Haskalah movement, which "denounced 
what was regarded as the traditionalism, obscurantism and 
backwardness" of the Jewish people and insisted that Jews must 
"renounce all that was unique about them" and recreate themselves 
in the image of other Europeans. 43 Zionist settlers in Palestine 
typically rejected their old Jewish names, such as Rosenthal 
and Silberberg, in favor of romantic Hebrew ones that had not 
previously been used. 44 Selzer argues that this movement had 
"contempt" for its own people and required the future founders 
of the Jewish state "to mold themselves in the image of those who 
hated them most" in order to "ensure the approval of the anti- 
Semites." 45 In this way, they ensured "the 'Aryanization' of the 
Jew" and the end of the Jews' condition, as stated in numerous 
Zionist writings that borrowed the accusation of anti-Semites, of 
Jews as "a 'parasitic' people." 46 "Jews endured anti-Semitism for 
nearly two millennia before finally succumbing themselves to the 
opinions of the anti-Semites." 47 Zionism's goal "was to create a 
new Jewish type who would invalidate the hostility of the anti- 
Semite for the extremely persuasive reason that the new Jew would 
be almost identical to the anti-Semite himself and would, to all 
intents and purposes, have ceased to be a Jew. 48 Selzer argues that 
the source of the European Israelis' prejudice against the Middle 
Eastern newcomers after 1948 was the way the latter "raised 
the fearful specter of Oriental or Asiatic primitivism as a Jewish 
characteristic and threatened to undo the whole grand psychic 
achievement of Israel," as "they were a living refutation of... the 
vitally important Zionist claim that the Jew is not Oriental." 49 


Cultural cleansing has served throughout history as a means of 
domination. Indeed, it is one species of the broader genus of ethnic 
cleansing. It comes in many varieties, ranging from destruction of 
3 the eradication of mother tongues, but it always 

Cultural Cleansing in Comparative Perspective 61 

aims at destroying a people's memory and identity. Sometimes, as 
in the cases of Bosnia and Palestine, it comes with other kinds of 
ethnic cleansing in an attempt to remove evidence, such as place 
names and even graveyards, of those who were expelled. 

The other essays in this volume concentrate specifically on 
cultural cleansing in Iraq since the invasion at the start of the 
third millennium CE. Not all of the techniques of conquerors 
that have been dealt with here necessarily apply in this case. The 
Arabic language and the religion of Islam in its main sectarian 
forms are too firmly entrenched for many outsiders to imagine 
replacing them, although indeed there were some naive Americans 
who dreamed at the outset of the occupation that this would 
bring into being a fertile field for Christian evangelization. The 
conflict that ensued following the invasion did at least temporarily 
undermine the Iraqi and pan-Arab identity by stirring up a virulent 
sectarianism. Inadvertently, the conquerors' initial indifference 
to protecting the country's ancient heritage - as in not acting to 
prevent the looting of museums and by using heavy machinery 
to dig trenches at the site of Babylon - actually contradicted the 
attempt to undermine the Arab and Islamic identities of Iraqis 
that pose real threats to imperial objectives. If the invaders were 
seeking to undermine the country's loyalties to the Arab/Islamic 
world, destroying the pre-Islamic heritage, which they might have 
imagined as the basis for some sort of purely Iraqi identity, was 
counterproductive to such a goal. 


1. Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, 
London: Reaktion Books, 2006, pp. 8, 210. 

2. See Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the 
Remaking of World Order, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, 
pp. 139ff and Huntington, "The Change to Change: Modernization, 
Development, and Politics," Comparative Politics, April 1971, 
pp. 293ff. 

3. See John \\ 1 i \ illi ms, Tl if Islamic ( on, Bcrkd 
and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971, pp. 2-3. 

4. Quincy Wright, A Stu 'i o l ,2 ad cd., with a Commentary on War 
since 1942, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965, p. 111. 

5. John Noble Wilford, "Languages Die, but Not Their Last Words," 
New York Times, September 19, 2007. 

6. Richard C. Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and 
Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, New- 
York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999, pp. 96-7. 

7. Alistair Home, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1914-1962, 
Harmondsworth, UK and New York: Penguin Books, p. 61. 

8. Walker Connor, "Nation-Building or Nation-Destroying," World 
Politics, Spring 1973. 

9. Lucian W Pye, "Chapter 3: Identity and Political Culture," in Leonard 
Binder et al. (eds.), Crises and Sequences in Political Development, 
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971, p. 116. 

10. Connor, "Nation-Building or Nation Destroying," pp. 341-2. 

11. Raymond Grew, "Italy," in Raymond Grew (ed.), Crises of Political 
Development in Europe and the United States, Studies in Political 
Development, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978, p. 278. 

12. Charles W Anderson, Fred R. von der Mehden, and Crawford 
Young, Issues of Political Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 
Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 78. 

13. Connor, "Nation Building or Nation-Destroying," pp. 319ff, 328, 

14. Ibid., p. 350. 

15. Richard W Cottam, Nationalism in Iran, 2nd ed., Pittsburgh: 
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979, pp. 118ff. 

16. Nader Entessar, "Chapter 16: Ethnicity and Ethnic Challenges in 
the Middle East," in John Mukum Mbaku et al. (eds.), Ethnicity 
and Governance in the Third World, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2001, 
p. 156. 

17. Bevan, Destruction of Memory, pp. 25-6. 

18. Ibid., p. 27. 

19. Ibid., p. 42. 

20. Ibid., p. 47. 

21. See Colin Kaiser, "Crimes Against Culture - the Former Yugoslavia," 
UNESCO Courier, September 2000, 
courier/2000_09/uk/signe2.htm, accessed November 14, 2008. 

22. For one rare comparison of their experiences, see Joseph Schechla, 
"Bosnia and Palestine: So Close, and Yet So Far," al-Majdal 
Quarterly Magazine, no. 35, Autumn 2007, 
al-majdal/2007/Autumn/article04.htm, accessed November 19, 

ising in Comparative Perspectiv 

23. Michael Adams, Signposts to Destruction: Israeli Settlements in 
Occupied Ten/lories, London: The Council for the Advancement 
of Arab-British Understanding, n.d., p. 13. 

24. Yoav Stern, "JNF to Erect Signs in Parks, Citing Destroyed Palestinian 
Villages," Haaretz, February 6, 2008, accessed May 16, 2008. 

25. Meron Benvenisti, Sj < i J ' / The Bin III on of the Holy 
Land Since 1948, Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta (trans.), Berkeley, Los 
Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2000, p. 5. 

26. Ibid., p. 4. 

27. Ibid., p. 8. 

28. Esther Zandberg, "The House Remembers," Haaretz, November 
16, 2003, 
No=361047, accessed March 2, 2008. 

29. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, pp. 17ff. 

30. Ibid., p. 47. 

31. Ibid., pp. 47, 53. 

32. Ibid., pp. 53-4. 

33. Meron Benvenisti, City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem, 
Maxine Kaufman Nunn (trans.), Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: 
University of California Press, 1996, p. 240. 

3-1. P>ei mi i ' > I scape, p. 296. 

35. Yigal Hai, "In Jaffa, a War Wages over Graves," Haaretz, April 2, 
2008, accessed May 16, 2008. 

36. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, pp. 273ff. 

37. Yoav Stern, "Arabs Rally Against Construction of Jerusalem 
Museum on Muslim Cemetery," Haaretz, November 6, 2008, http://, accessed November 
19, 2008, and Gershon Baskin, "Encountering Peace: A City of 
Tolerance, Not a Museum of Tolerance," Jerusalem Post, Internet 
Edition, November 4, 2008, 
accessed November 19, 2008. 

38. Nicole Nasser, ".Israeli Politics oi Archeolog) ' in Jerusalem," Online 
Journal, February 14, 2007, accessed May 23, 2008. 

39. Meyrav Wurmser, "Post-Zionism and the Sephardi Question," 
Middle East Forum, Spring 2005, accessed May 13, 2008. 

40. Bat-Zion Eraqi-Klorman, "The Forced Conversion of Jewish 
Orphans in Yemen," International journal of Middle East Studies, 
February 2001, p. 23. 

41. Joel Greenberg, "The Babies From Yemen: An Enduring Mystery," 
New York Times, September 2, 1997, http://www.nytimes. 
mystery.html, accessed May 9, 2008. 

64 Cultural Cleans 

42. William Pfaff, "Eugenics, Anyone?" New York Review of Books, 
Vol. 44, No. 16, October 23, 1997, and Raphael Falk, "Eugenics 
Denied: Response to William Pfaff," New York Review of Books, 
Vol. 45, No. 1, January 15, 1998. 

43. Michael Selzer, The Aryanization of the Jewish State, New York: 
Black Star Publishing Company, 1967, pp. 29, 32; also see Benjamin 
Beit-Hallahmi, O Reflect > Hisi 

and Israel, New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993. 

44. Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins, p. 128. 

45. Selzer, Am ti >] I i h State, p. 35. 

46. Ibid., pp. 36-7. 

47. Ibid., p. 38. 

48. Ibid., p. 48. 

49. Ibid., p. 50. 


Policy in Motion: The Assault on 
Iraq's Incomparable History 



Zainab Bahrani 

The destruction and looting of cultural heritage in the Anglo- 
American war and occupation of Iraq has been the subject of a 
great deal of press reports and discussions in academic journals 
and conferences in the past five years, ever since the initial invasion 
of 2003 culminated in the widespread plundering of museums and 
libraries. These discussions, however, have remained at the level 
of unease over the unfortunate collateral damage of the war and 
occupation; damage that has included a patrimony, which is seen 
not as a loss for Iraq as a state or for the people of this land but 
primarily for what is described as "our global cultural heritage." 
Since ancient Iraq is the land that archaeologists and ancient 
historians refer to as Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, the 
place of the rise of urbanism, the invention of writing and complex 
social structures, Iraq's ancient past is therefore considered to be of 
great importance to the entire world. 2 However, this international 
outcry over the destruction and theft of antiquities as a global 
heritage is a double-edged sword. On the one hand there is no 
doubt in the importance of raising public awareness on the matter 
of the particular importance of Iraq's archaeological profile to 
the world. On the other hand the academic conferences, papers 
and publications that have emerged from it, as well as general 
popular press books and the endless news articles on the matter 
have all circumvented a major point. Cultural destruction in war 
is not always a result of accidental or "collateral" damage. It is 

68 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

not just a loss of the world's global heritage. It is a destruction of 
history in a country under occupation. 

The Assault on Iraqi History and Collective Memory 

Most of the attention that this subject has received has been 
mainly phrased as a concern for "the cradle of world civilization." 
However, as in other wars in other times and places, the destruction 
of monuments and historical archives works to erase the historical 
landscape and the realms of memory around which people define 
their collective identities. There has been a remarkable silence on 
this aspect of the cultural and historical destruction in Iraq. Even 
though, as an area of research and of scholarly and political public 
discussions and publications, this type of destruction has been 
recognized and analyzed when such acts have taken place in other 
countries, and when they were perpetrated by other peoples. For 
example, the attacks on monuments and architectural structures 
that were conceived to be markers of a particular ethnic group's 
presence in a region - for example, minarets, orthodox churches, 
and the famous bridge at Mostar - have now become dominant 
aspects of the historical accounts of the breakup of the former 
Yugoslavia, perhaps even iconic of that war in some ways. 3 
These standing monuments, stone, brick and mortar, came to be 
equated to linguistic or religious-ethnic groups or nationalities, 
their presence unwanted and erased from the landscape at the 
same time that people were either forcefully relocated or killed, 
each group considering that their ethnic identity and historical 
relation to place were made tangible or intangible by the presence 
or absence of monuments. 

The earliest course of events in the 2003 war, in terms of the 
destruction of the ancient Mesopotamian past, is well known. 
In the first few days following the end of the US "Shock and 
Awe" campaign on Iraq, when Baghdad was under US military 
control, Iraq's main museums, libraries and archives were looted 
and extensively damaged by fire. Most of the damage to museums 
and libraries occurred between April 10 and 12, 2003. 4 Due to 
the focus of the international press, it was the Iraq Museum 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 69 

that received the greatest amount of attention. This museum is 
generally considered to be one of the three or four most important 
museum collections in the world as it houses a remarkable range 
of excavated antiquities and Islamic art and manuscripts from 
Iraq itself rather than being a collection formed by market- 
bought objects or antiquities acquired through imperial wars 
and colonization (such as the British Museum in London or the 
Louvre Museum in Paris, for example). 

During the event of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, 
a Bradley tank and a number of US troops were in the area, some 
meters away from the main entrance. At one point, a curator from 
the museum staff walked over and asked for assistance but was 
told by the tank commander (who, to give him credit, actually 
radioed his superiors to request permission) that no orders had 
been given to help. At the time, Donald Rumsfeld appeared on 
our television screens in the US and declared that these events 
were a positive sign of the liberation of an oppressed people; 
"stuff happens," he said. In the United States, those of us who 
opposed the war from the start, and who implied that the US 
bore some responsibility for its negligence were dismissed as 
anti-American radicals, even in the mainstream press. But by 
2007, Barbara Bodine, the US Ambassador at the time, revealed 
to Charles Ferguson in his documentary film No End in Sight that 
direct orders had come from Washington stating that no one was 
to interfere with the looting. 

In the press and among most archaeologists, the events of that 
April are still described as another consequence of the occupation 
that was not foreseen and was, like so many other aspects of the 
occupation, due to the lack of foresight of the Bush administra- 
tion. 5 The looting spree in the museums and libraries was just the 
tip of the (proverbial) iceberg of a catastrophic scale of historical 
destruction that was to come in the following five years, and it was 
not simply the result of poor planning or the inadvertent damage 
of war. Even if this could not be avoided, or was not foreseen 
(an excuse that I personally find rather weak given the fact that 
numerous archaeologists and other scholars had warned both the 
US and UK governments against exactly such a scenario months 

70 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

before the war), there are areas of cultural destruction that were 
entirely avoidable and sometimes pre-planned. 

First, there is the Pentagon's strategic decision to use the 
main cultural heritage sites of the country as US and coalition 
military bases. These sites include (among others) Ur, the 
legendary birthplace of Abraham; Babylon, the famed capital 
of Mesopotamian antiquity; and Samarra, the Abbasid Islamic 
imperial city. The digging, bulldozing, filling of sand bags and 
blast-barricade containers, the building of barracks and digging of 
trenches into the ancient sites have destroyed thousands of years 
of archaeological material, stratigraphy and historical data. Walls 
and standing structures have collapsed as a result of shootings, 
bombings and helicopter landings. The idea that there was no pre- 
planning or high-level military decision making in choosing these 
ancient sites as major camp installations is difficult to believe. 

Despite the commonly held view, these activities are not 
only ethically questionable because they inadvertently damage 
cultural heritage sites during an otherwise ethically conducted 
act of jus belli. On the contrary, they are against both the Iraqi 
Cultural Heritage Law and against International Laws of War 
and Occupation. In other words, like human rights abuses, 
the destruction of a people's cultural heritage and history has 
elsewhere been regarded as a war crime. To be precise, similar to 
the case of torture, International Law has regarded such activities 
as war crimes when people or states other than the US have been 
responsible for them. The war which was presented as a jus belli 
but was launched on the basis of a series of false claims publicized 
by the G.W Bush administration, has disregarded international 
law in several arenas and cultural heritage is another one of 
them. This kind of abuse of heritage sites is perhaps difficult 
to understand when the historical sites are unfamiliar. A simple 
reversal may help illustrate the needless destructive acts of the 
occupation forces. 

Imagine if you will, if, say, Stonehenge were to be taken over as 
a military barracks that housed thousands of troops and required 
the digging of the earth in order to provide plumbing and sewerage 
in the middle of the ancient site itself, while trenches were dug 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 71 

around the megaliths and perhaps some of the smaller monoliths 
were relocated, and used as blast walls to protect the troops at the 
checkpoint entries to the base. When leading archaeologists come 
to point out the damage, they are asked: "Are you suggesting that 
we risk the lives of our troops?" This is the situation today at 
some of the most important cultural heritage sites of Iraq. 

At other ancient sites, we have a second situation of massive 
but preventable destruction. This is the looting of countless 
Mesopotamian archaeological sites. The looting occurred because 
the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage has a dearth of funding 
or equipment for site guards like those in other antiquities-rich 
countries such as Egypt, Italy, Turkey or Greece, and because the 
US and UK governments have had little interest in including such 
site protection in the multi-trillion-dollar budget of the occupation. 
Despite the noble pledges of commitment to the rescue of cultural 
heritage and rebuilding of the museum and libraries that were 
made in 2003, the reality is similar to that of the situation with 
electricity and water. Almost nothing has been done. The Iraqi 
government is no better. It has shown a remarkable lack of interest 
in preserving historical sites, whether they are of pre-Islamic or 
Islamic eras. For example, the ancient area of the ninth century 
Abbasid royal city of Samarra was chosen as the place for building 
an Iraqi police barracks. More recently, the Iraqi government has 
actually cut what little money that had been allocated for these 
sites. Worse yet, in the summer of 2007 Iraqi troops marched 
into the National Library and physically assaulted librarians and 
other staff when they wished to take over the National Library 
as an observation point. 6 

At the time when the first news of the Iraq Museum looting 
emerged, there were also allegations made in the Western press and 
media that the curatorial staff had been responsible. These charges 
were never substantiated, although people's lives and reputations 
were seriously damaged as a result. In the de-Ba'athification 
plan of Paul Bremer, any qualified curators, archaeologists and 
professors who had remained in Iraq through the terrible years of 
the embargo, were removed from their positions. In the following 
five years, many more scholars left the country, forced into exile 

72 Cultural Cle 

because of direct threats to their lives; others were not so fortunate 
and have just become part of the "collateral damage" of war. 

Another seriously disturbing development is apparent when it 
comes to the account of the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage. 
A situation has arisen now that the voices of Iraqi archaeologists 
are mostly dismissed as politically motivated whereas the archae- 
ologists who work with the US or UK government and military are 
now taken as the unbiased and objective assessors of the situation. 
In addition to the destruction and erasure of history therefore, we 
can add the silencing of the voices of Iraqi scholars. 

What has happened under the US command of Iraq with regard 
to cultural heritage, museums and libraries was in opposition to 
both the 1954 Hague Convention and the principles of the Geneva 
Conventions. When I first pointed this out, writing on the morning 
after the looting and destruction of the museums and libraries 
in 2003, 7 1 did not realize that the looting of the museums and 
libraries would be only the beginning of an immense historical 
annihilation that was to come, the processes of which I would 
have the unfortunate privilege of seeing for myself in 2004 while 
working on the closing of the military camp at Babylon with my 
colleague Maryam Umran Moussa. 8 Yet given the horrors of that 
time and in the face of the current death and destruction that have 
become the day to day existence of the average Iraqi it is difficult 
for me, as an archaeologist from Iraq, to focus on issues of cultural 
heritage alone. After all, archaeology and libraries have received 
some attention by various non-governmental organizations 
(NGOs) and government ministries, more so than the civilian 
death count or the contaminated drinking water or the hospitals 
full of dying children. Yet the destruction of history as an act of 
war is no small matter. 

In academia, the general stance has been that notions of cultural 
heritage and history, the relation of people to monuments, is 
not to be universalized like the human subject, whose rights we 
fight for, because attitudes to history are culturally constructed. 
Furthermore, the currently favored view in archaeology and 
anthropology is that this kind of a relation of people to the past 
is a Western one, and as such it is part of a Western order that 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 73 

we impose on others. My own scholarly view diverges from these 
current positions and the Iraq war has only made this clearer to 
me. The appropriation of the notion of historical consciousness 
for the West is simply a continuation of past colonial attitudes 
under a new liberal guise. The historical accounts of antiquity 
make clear that the relationship of people to monuments, to 
natural and constructed landscapes, and to historical narratives 
themselves is a very ancient one, certainly as old as the Early 
Dynastic Mesopotamian cities of the third millennium BC. In my 
view, having lived in the midst of this war and seen its violence on 
a daily basis, the horror of war is not the horror of body counts 
alone. Wars and occupation also cause damage to the living that 
cannot be quantified. Historical destruction must be seriously 
assessed as an act of war. 

In the United States and Great Britain, the constant debate 
about the exact amount of looted archaeological sites or stolen 
antiquities continues in the press and among archaeologists. Since 
the first days of the war in 2003 there has been a barrage of 
reports, of sound bites from self-styled experts on Iraq's history 
or cultural heritage (many having never been in Iraq), reports 
from journalists who sat in the Rashid or Palestine hotels in 
Baghdad while their Iraqi employees went out on the streets, 
reports of coalition government representatives who minimize 
the effects of the damage or shift all the blame to the previous 
regime, and reports of representatives from various governments, 
each claiming to have done the most, or making a pledge to do 
the most, for the rescue of cultural heritage in Iraq while they 
remain silent about the civilian deaths. Living in Iraq itself one 
saw precious few of the projects that have been announced as the 
valiant rescue of Iraq's heritage. Worse yet, some of the projects 
and funding agencies appear to be geared more for the benefit of 
European and North American consumption rather than being 
of much use to heritage in Iraq itself. In a country taken over by 
violence, one should expect no more. 

After the United Nations (UN) building collapsed in a 2003 
bombing, the UN pulled out of Iraq and other NGOs followed 
suit, stating that it was simply too dangerous for their employees 

74 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

to remain. A number of institutions began working on projects to 
reconstruct the museums and libraries or to train Iraqi scholars 
from the safety of distance provided by cites such as Amman, 
London and New York. In addition, some of the accounts that I 
have read on cultural heritage issues in Iraq are more in the genre 
of sensationalizing narratives that set out to heroize the Western 
protagonist and give either little or no credit to the Iraqi archae- 
ologists and scholars who have been doing all the work inside 
Iraq itself. As a result of some of these accounts, one might say 
that the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq becomes salvaged 
into a narrative of rescue and reconstruction where in fact there 
is nothing but catastrophic loss. This appropriation of the very 
narrative of the events, of the historical account of what has 
happened to historical sites and cultural institutions and who has 
been working to rescue and preserve these is a facet that I could 
not foresee in March and April of 2003. Cultural heritage is a 
pawn in this game of war in more ways than one. 

The people of Iraq continue to endure many forms of violence 
on a daily basis. Some of these are direct forms of physical 
violence, while others are psychological forms of violence. The 
loss or destruction of historical monuments can and does have a 
devastating effect on people. That is why throughout history such 
destruction has been calculated into the strategies of war. This is 
the reason that iconoclasm and destruction or the relocation of 
monuments have occurred as deliberate acts of war throughout 
recorded world history, and why ethnic cleansing works through 
the annihilation of people by means of eradicating any trace of 
their past. The recognition of cultural destruction as an act of 
warfare is not new. It was the reason that international legal 
conventions were written in opposition to such acts, especially 
after World War II. 

Today, as I write this chapter while I sit at my desk in New 
York City, the death toll for US troops in Iraq stands at 4,183; 
we see the latest count on the scrolling text at the bottom of our 
television screens. Conversely, the rising numbers of Iraqi dead 
never appear in our news reports; the Pentagon does not keep 
count, and neither does the Iraqi government for that matter. 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 75 

Meanwhile in Iraq itself, water and electricity infrastructures 
still have not been repaired after over five years of occupation. 
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, exiled or 
forcibly displaced, women's rights have been obliterated and the 
rich cultural heritage and historical archives of the country have 
been extensively looted and destroyed. 

At the same time, a new US government initiative that designates 
$14 million for the assistance of Iraq's historical patrimony, its 
museums and libraries, was announced. Speaking in early October 
2008 at the Iraqi embassy in Washington DC, then first lady Laura 
Bush publicized this generous grant made in order to remedy the 
unfortunate collateral damage done to cultural heritage, and the 
years of neglect of archaeological sites and cultural institutions 
under Saddam Hussein's regime. 9 However, a large part of this is 
money that has already been distributed to American universities 
in the US, and a great deal of it will actually go to institutions in 
the US rather than to repairing things that were destroyed under 
the watch of the occupation or even wrecked directly by the US 
military in Iraq. 

Of course there are good things about this grant and it will 
certainly be put to positive use in American universities, for example 
in providing Iraqi scholars with training in the latest technological 
and scientific methods. The irony here is not to be missed. Part of 
the money is specifically designated for educating Iraq Museum 
professionals in curatorial expertise in the US, an offer of lessons 
in how to be good custodians of your cultural heritage from the 
country that was responsible for its destruction. 

In the US little is heard about the placing of American or Multi- 
National Force military bases on ancient heritage sites, or about 
the bulldozing and digging by US forces at legendary historical 
places like Babylon and Samarra. Satellite images show that one 
ancient site dating to the early second millennium BC was totally 
leveled in order to accommodate the expansion of the US base 
nearby. 10 While different sectarian factions in Iraq bombed each 
other's mosques and churches because of religious prejudices and 
intolerance, the occupation's forces participated in the destruction 
of the historical sites of ancient Mesopotamia in their own way. 

76 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

The looting of the museums and the torching of the libraries 
in April of 2003 were famously explained by Rumsfeld as an act 
of democratic freedom by a previously oppressed population; 
"freedom is messy," he said. Speaking for the Bush administration 
in 2003, he also told the American public that the looting could 
not have been foreseen by anyone. Rumsfeld knew very well when 
he said this that the looting was indeed foreseen, since dozens of 
archaeologists, other academics and museum professionals had 
warned of exactly such a scenario. Some had actually gone to the 
Pentagon to be assured by US government officials that guards 
would be placed at museums and libraries as soon as US forces 
took over the country. Even if we take Rumsfeld at his word 
and accept that the looting in April 2003 could not have been 
predicted, he still needs to explain the Pentagon decisions, made 
under his command, that involved direct US destruction of ancient 
sites or the removal of national archives, against the wishes of 
the Iraqi people and government. In addition, the occupation of a 
number of archaeological and historical sites as US and coalition 
military bases continues today. These acts are clear violations 
of the international conventions on the safeguarding of cultural 
heritage of occupied territories. 

In October of 2008 the Pentagon launched another "public 
relations" initiative that would allocate $US 330 million for pro- 
American propaganda inside Iraq. This operation would pay for 
such things as pro-American television and radio programs as 
well as print news spun from pro-US occupation perspectives. It 
is clear that this propaganda is aimed at the Iraqi people, but we 
should realize that some of this spin is also aimed at consumers 
here in the West, so that we might believe that the humanitarian 
intervention in Iraq was a success. 

Part of the new campaign, seemingly aimed specifically at 
academics, includes something called the Minerva Research 
Initiative (MRI) funded by some $US 50-75 million. A website 
by that name has been set up by the Pentagon, in conjunction with 
the Social Science Research Council. 11 According to its website, 
the MRI aims to provide a new military-academic interface, 
calling on all academics to submit proposals for research and 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 77 

articles to this site. The major lure of the MRI appears to be not 
only potential financial support for research projects (to be peer 
reviewed by the Social Science Research Council in conjunction 
with the Department of Defense) but for the select few, there will 
be access to the contested Iraqi archive, now housed in the Hoover 
Institute at Stanford University. 

As the destruction of historical sites and occupation of these 
sites as military bases continues despite the constant requests of 
the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, the attitude 
towards the stolen archives demonstrates a general policy of 
disregard for the people and their history. The US continues to 
refuse the return of archives that were taken out of Iraq and 
shipped to the United States. As Saad Eskander the Director of 
the National Library and State Archives of Iraq put it, rather 
than improving their stance on the protection of cultural heritage, 
there has in fact been "an escalation in its [US] violations of 
international conventions that goes against the principles of the 
rule of law, self determination and human rights that are supposed 
to govern the so called free world." 12 The archive at the Hoover 
Institute is reported to consist of tens of millions of records kept 
by Saddam Hussein's regime on the Iraqi people: all of the records 
on private citizens who may have been dissidents, records of those 
who disappeared, records of human rights abuses, the collective 
punishments and murdering of the population. Iraqis did not have 
access to these documents under the violent and repressive regime 
of Saddam; they are denied access to them now in a so-called free 
and independent Iraq. 

In April 2003, Rumsfeld also described the plundering of the 
museums and libraries as the "messy birth pangs of democracy." 
But we now know that at the Iraq Museum that houses one 
of the world's most important collections of antiquities, no less 
important historically than any of the major museums in Western 
capitals, the looting was at least partially inspired by the concept 
of antiquities as free market goods. These are not the ideals of 
democracy, but of financial profit. It seems that at least one group 
of looters that entered the museum were professional art thieves 
who knew exactly what to take, the difference between a real 

78 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

antiquity and a plaster copy, and what objects would fetch the 
highest prices in the international illicit art market. The former 
Director of the Iraq Museum, Donny George Yohanna, has written 
that months before the war he heard reports from the UK and 
elsewhere in Europe of people boasting that the war would enable 
better-qualified Western custodians to take over the antiquities 
of Iraq, which were, after all, global cultural heritage (he now 
lives in exile, having been forced to leave when threats were made 
against his family because they are Christians). 13 Of course there 
were other looters at the Iraq Museum; many were like the people 
who went into various government buildings, took furniture and 
equipment wherever they could find it, and plundered because 
of their hatred of the regime. However, there is no question that 
professional art thieves were involved at the museum. A large 
number of artifacts from the Iraq Museum collections were found 
later in Western Europe and the United States, as well as several 
countries in the Middle East, stopped by border control. These 
objects had obviously been smuggled out of Iraq for sale in the 
lucrative international market of stolen antiquities. 

In the years that followed the museum looting, we also saw 
an increase in the pillaging of archaeological sites, especially in 
the south of Iraq, the heartland of ancient Sumer and Babylonia, 
where there are thousands of ancient sites. Some amount of 
looting already existed there in Saddam Hussein's era, especially 
during the days of the embargo, but the rate of the looting 
increased dramatically after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. 
Like the major museum thefts, this kind of looting is not for 
local consumption. It feeds the appetite of the illicit international 
market in antiquities. The looting has now somewhat subsided, 
thanks to the appointment of more site guards and the distribution 
of patrol cars to them, organized and funded in part by the US 
Department of State as well as by the Italian government. The 
destruction of the record of the past through the damage done 
to archaeological sites, whether in the era of Saddam Hussein 
and the embargo or in the first years of the occupation, can 
never be repaired. 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 79 

The Willful Violence of Cultural Destruction 

In comparison to the continuing violence in Iraq, the deaths, the 
forced relocations and exile of the population, the destruction 
of cultural heritage and the confiscation of archives seem like a 
minor detail of war, the loss of some bits of paper and old artifacts, 
but we should not forget that such forms of destruction do great 
violence to the inhabitants of the land. To Americans, the looting 
and destruction of museums and libraries that took place soon 
after the fall of Baghdad is most commonly seen as an example of 
the phenomenal lack of foresight of the Bush administration. We 
dismiss much of what happened during the invasion of 2003 and 
under the continuing occupation as poor planning or, at worst, 
the stupidity and ineptitude of the early days of the invasion. In 
fact, however, a large part of the cultural destruction took place 
not in the first days of the invasion, but during the last five and 
half years of occupation. Clearly, not all of it was accidental. 

The occupation of heritage sites as military bases that I have 
discussed above is a clear example of a strategic and pre-planned 
use of historical landmarks and monuments. Besides the legendary 
city of Babylon, which was turned into the headquarters of South 
Central Command of the Multi-National Forces, at Samarra, 
the top of the ninth century minaret was blown off by a rocket- 
propelled grenade while it was in use as a US sniper post. When 
such acts occur in other wars and are perpetrated by other people 
we have no qualms about speaking of them in terms of historical 
erasure and calling them crimes of war. Why do we not do the 
same now? 

There is also now the potential of historical destruction in the 
current plans for the demolition of old city centers, for example 
in the historical heart of Kerbala and Najaf. The planning by the 
Iraqi government in collaboration with international construction 
firms is presented in terms of modernization and reconstruction, 
but these plans will re-shape the medieval city centers, just as the 
blast walls and checkpoints have reorganized the urban space of 
Baghdad and facilitated the forced relocation of the population. 

The building of "enduring bases" across Iraq and the colossal 
US embassy in Baghdad should also be taken into account in that 
they are part of a construction program that contributes to the 
militarization of urban space, the demolition of historical areas, 
and the extensive erasure and rewriting of the historical fabric 
of the land. How can we think of the larger issue of territoriality 
and control in Iraq without taking into account the continuing 
obliteration of the past and memory through the removal and 
suppression of archives, or the erasing and reconfiguration of the 
historical terrain through the destruction of ancient monuments 
and historical sites? These things should not be dismissed as 
accidental collateral damage; they are direct acts of war and it 
is precisely through such destruction that empires have always 
re-mapped space. 


1. Parts of this chapter have appeared in Zainab Bahrani, "The Battle 
for Babylon," in Peter Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (eds.), 
The Destruction of Cultii a I H, i i lge in Iraq, Melton, UK: Boydell 
& Brewer Ltd, 2008, and Zainab Bahrani, "Desecrating History," 
Guardian, April 9, 2008. 

2. For a history of ancient Mesopotamia, see Marc Van De Mieroop, 
A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 B.C., Oxford: 
Blackwell, 2004. 

3. SeeRobeiU) n, T Dcsi ctio f'Memo \ hit • 1 
London: Reaktion Books, 2006. 

4. See Bahrani, "The Battle for Babylon"; K. Nashef, The Destruction 
of Iraqi ( 'ultural Heritage (in Arabic), Beirut: Dar al Hamra, 2004; 
and Donny George, "The Looting of the Iraq Museum," in Stone 
and Bajjaly, Destruction of C uh u u I h ge in Iraq. 

5. Forexampli i hi li u i a ] u I radleoici lization In 

years later," Salon, 
iraq_roundtable/print.html, accessed December 2008. 

6. Saad Eskander, personal communication with the author in 2007. 

7. Zainab Bahrani, "Looting and Conquest," The Nation, May 14, 

8. Maryam Umran Moussa, "The Damages Sustained to the Ancient 
City of Babel as a Consequence of the Military Presence of Coalition 
Forces," in Stone and Bajjaly, Destruction of Cultural Heritage 
in Iraq. 

Archaeology and the Strategies of War 81 

9. Laura Bush, "Remarks at the Launch of the 'Iraq Cultural Heritage 
Project'," October 16, 2008, 
ases/2008/10/20081016-l.html, accessed December 2008. 

10. See Elizabeth C. Stone, "Patterns of Looting in Southern Iraq," 
Antiquity, No. 82 (2008), pp. 125-38. 

11. See Thomas Asher, "Making Sense of the Minerva Controversy and 
the NSCC," Social Science Research Council, 
essays/minerva/, accessed December 2008. 

12. Saad Eskander, "Minerva Research Initiative: Searching for the Truth 
or Denying the Iraqis the Rights to Know Truth?" Social Science 
Research Council, October 29, 2008, 
minerva/2008/10/29/eskander, accessed December 2008. 

13. George, "Looting of the Iraq Museum." 



Abbas al-Hussainy 

The complexity and cultural richness of Iraqi heritage is unques- 
tionable. It is the site of advanced urban settlement dating back 
to the fourth millennium BC. The ancient sites of Mesopotamia 
have bequeathed us an impressive array of monuments, texts 
and artifacts, providing modern archaeologists a remarkable 
historical record. Iraq's culture heritage, moreover, is marked by an 
exceptional human and natural variety. In the human dimension, 
countless peoples and religious communities have contributed to 
the cultural contours of the Iraqi nation, and in land itself, one 
finds equal variety: from the Gulf to Shatt al-Arab, to the great 
Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to the fertile lands in the sediments 
plains, to the mountain chains. The diversity of Iraq, in terms both 
human and natural, has greatly enriched the cultural imagination 
and production of the peoples of Mesopotamia. It is in light of 
this cultural richness and heritage that the scourging of Iraq in 
the recent modern era is so particularly troubling. 

The Destruction 

The extraordinary cultural output of Iraq will be considered in 
the latter part of this chapter, with a concise survey of the major 
periods, sites, cities, museums, and libraries. At the outset, it 
is sufficient to note that more than 12,000 registered archaeo- 
logical sites constitute the bulk of Iraq's incomparable cultural 
legacy. Unfortunately, all of those priceless elements have been 

Current Status of Archaeological Heritage of Iraq 83 

exposed to a level of destruction that no other country's cultural 
heritage has ever suffered. An inquiry of this level of cultural 
destruction should thus be centered on the core questions of an 
historical account of this devastation and the identification of 
those responsible for it. 

The modern assault on Iraq's cultural legacy began as early 
as the second half of the nineteenth century. Initially, in the 
absence of a strong national state, thousands of archaeological 
objects were illegally exported to Asia, Europe and America. This 
cultural wasting slowed with the founding of the Iraqi state in 
the aftermath of World War I and the promulgation of law and 
regulations to protect antiquities, which banned the trespassing 
and unauthorized digging of archaeological sites and halted the 
sale of antiquities abroad. These new legal controls stemmed the 
flow of Mesopotamian artifacts into the international market 
for antiquities. 

The Iraq-Iran war, however, once again exposed Iraqi heritage 
to exploitation and destruction. A great many important sites, 
especially those located close to the borders, suffered war damage. 
Moreover, Iraqi military activities exposed archaeological sites to 
further damage. Some sites served as military headquarters and 
were exposed to wear and damage through regular attendant 
traffic, such as the site of Der in Badra. Other sites were used as 
observation points because of their elevation, such as Drehem in 
Diwaniya and some sites between Ash-Shumali and Numaniyah. 
Other archaeological sites were damaged by the construction 
of air bases, such as Tallil, first used as a military base by the 
British during the Mandate era. The area of ancient Ur is the 
location of the Tallil air base, also used during the Gulf War. 
After 1991, as the central government weakened and as a result of 
the harsh economic embargo, illegal excavations ensued, causing 
extensive damage to the cities of the south, including Diwaniya, 
Semawa, Wasit, and Nasiriyah. Accordingly, thousands of cultural 
objects were looted and numerous sites and museums in those 
cities suffered damage and neglect. These cultural losses were 
compounded by environmental wreckage, notably with the Iraqi 

84 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

regime's punitive destruction of the Salt Marshes in the Shi'ite 
south, following the 1991 uprising/rebellion. 

However, these earlier assaults on Iraq's Mesopotamian 
heritage pale in comparison to the wreckage inflicted by the 
occupation of Iraq from 2003 onward. Indeed, the scope of the 
cultural destruction suggests of occupation authorities a profound 
indifference to Iraq's cultural legacy if not outright complicity 
in the cultural wasting of the Iraqi nation. All of Iraq's major 
museums were affected, with damage to the Iraqi National 
Museum qualifying as catastrophic; thousands of objects were 
stolen or destroyed. Equal if not greater devastation affected 
the Sumerian sites, some of which quite simply ceased to exist. 
Great ancient cities and archaeological sites were thoroughly 
destroyed including Isin, abu-Hatab, Bezikh, Adab, Larsa, Shmet, 
Umma, Umm Al-Hafriyat, Tulul al-Dhaher, 1 az-Zebleiat, 2 and 
Tell al Wilaya. 3 Additional sites were used as military camps for 
occupying troops, including Babylon, Kish, Ur, and Samarra. In 
some cases even the offices of the antiquities departments were 
seized and occupied for military purposes. 

Responsibility for the cultural wasting of Iraq is manifold. At 
the simplest level, unscrupulous antiquities markets in Europe 
and the United States and elsewhere have driven cultural looting 
throughout the modern era, up to the present era of occupation. 
More precisely, blame can be placed on the Iraqi state up to 2003, 
and to the occupation authorities thereafter. 

The modern Iraqi state bears blame on several levels. In addition 
to launching wars that exposed Iraq's cultural sites to damage, 
the Hussein regime sponsored restoration projects that served 
purposes of propaganda rather than genuine historical interest. 
Most infamously was the "restoration" of Babylon which was 
rebuilt from inappropriate and anachronistic building materials. 
The ancient Neo-Babylonian palace was reconstructed with 
Saddam Hussein's name inscribed on the bricks, in the style of 
Nebuchadnezzar II. To the discredit of their vocation, some Iraqi 
archaeologists participated in this farce. 

In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, government officials 
engaged in illegal excavations, using violence against all local 

Current Status of Archaeological Heritage of Iraq 85 

opposition in Diwaniya, Semawa, Wasit, and Nasiriyah. They 
aimed not only at looting but also the deliberate destruction of 
the historical identity of Southern Iraqis. Some very important 
sites were affected in this way, including Isin, Adad, Shurrupak, 
abu-Hatab, Bezikh, Larsa, Shmet, Umma, Tulul al-Dhaher, az- 
Zebleiat, and Tell al Wilaya. 

The damage to these sites, including looting, is sometimes 
explained as the result of the desperate conditions of the local 
populace, hence diverting blame from the guilty governmental 
officials to the local populace. In fact, economic conditions in the 
affected regions - while difficult - were no worse than the rest 
of the country. Moreover, the population of the affected areas 
tended to leave these archaeological sites unmolested, given folk 
beliefs about evil spirits occupying these sites, while other sites 
were treated with respect as they served as graveyards. 

Much of the cultural destruction of Iraq during this period 
was concentrated in the south. The Hussein regime, following 
the 1991 Gulf War and the southern revolts, waged an official 
campaign of vengeance and terrorism against the south, whose 
aim was nothing short of its destruction - including the people, 
their heritage and their environment. Southern Iraqis have the 
longest history of civil society and heritage and the regime set to 
extirpate all traces of those cultural markers. 

It is estimated that more than 350,000 people were killed and 
buried in mass graves during the assault. Some 3 million date- 
palm trees were uprooted and the famed salt marshes deliberately 
dried up in a wanton act of environmental state terrorism. The 
regime mounted a propaganda campaign of lies, alleging that the 
people of the south were not Iraqis but foreigners - i.e. Persians 
- who moved into the area only recently. These claims are clearly 
contradicted by the cultural remains of both Sumerians and 
Akkadians in the region. 

Specialists of the southern people report that, despite the recent 
emergence of Shi'ism, people of the south largely persist in the 
ancient traditions and use artifacts of their predecessors. There 
is also linguistic evidence of descent from the ancient Sumerians 

86 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

and Akkadians in the numerous words and place names from 
both languages that have survived in local dialects. 

The Saddam Hussein regime was further involved in the 
construction of intrusive infrastructure in vulnerable areas 
including Tell Khaled in Diwaniya. The regime also sponsored 
agricultural projects, like those of the Greek company Sapanious, 
which had a deleterious impact on the archaeological heritage. 

In this regard, the case of the Third River Project, ostensibly 
designed to increase agricultural production, deserves special 
criticism in that it resulted in the destruction of many Sumerian 
sites in the old dry river bed of the Euphrates. Other sites were 
damaged as a result of building roads in the vicinity. These 
neglectful policies extended to so-called rescue operations such 
as the one at Tell al-Makhada. The site was rescued on paper 
only, by the staged removal of only the upper surface while deeper 
layers were left in the hands of the construction company that 
built over them the road between Diwaniya and Najaf. 

Regretfully, the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage bears 
responsibility for excavations that occurred during the 1990s. The 
Board adopted a policy of rewarding the discovery of recoverable 
artifacts while paying no reward or incentive for the discovery or 
preservation of permanent structures. Resultantly, archaeological 
structures were left unprotected, and moreover, clumsy excavation 
became an economic - rather than historical - pursuit for many. 
Cuneiform tablets, in particular, were copied and sold as original 
as was the case at the Shmet and Bezikh sites. 

Additionally, the training of professional antiquities staff was 
neglected. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage did little 
to raise suitable levels of expertise and care while, at the same 
time, displaying hostility to PhD holders. Consequently, many 
such experts chose to teach in the universities instead. At present, 
the Board retains only six PhDs on its staff, some of whom are 
on the verge of retirement. 

The shortage of trained staff reached such a degree that some 
critical sites are severely understaffed, such as Semawa, which 
constitutes more than 600 sites including Uruk. There is only 
one staff archaeologist on site with a BA degree. Basra is even 

Current Status of Archaeological Heritage of Iraq 87 

worse off, with no trained archaeologist in the antiquities office. 
Contemporary Iraq lacks the necessary staff for major sites, like 
Mosul and Nasiriyah, where the minimal tasks of protection and 
documentation cannot be adequately performed. 

Though much blame falls on the Iraqi government for its acts 
of neglect and caprice vis-a-vis Iraqi heritage, the most significant 
destruction of Iraq's treasures has occurred under the Anglo- 
American occupation regime since 2003. 

Under the eye of occupation forces, significant damage was 
inflicted to sites converted to military encampments, including 
Babylon, Kish, Ur and Samarra. The Babylon site was bulldozed 
to build a helicopter landing base. The soldiers also used the earth 
to fill sand bags and that "sand" was undoubtedly full of artifacts. 
In another dramatic case, occupation forces turned the medieval 
khan between Karaba and Najaf, called the Khan of Rubua into a 
military base. Soldiers collected discarded weapons and explosives, 
dumped them in a well within the building and detonated the 
munitions, causing the collapse of the Khan's roof. 

The site of Ur was likewise converted for military aims and 
occupation forces proceeded to expand their military encampment 
without any permission from the State Board of Antiquities and 
Heritage or any oversight from archaeologist experts who might 
have directed American forces away from vulnerable sites. As a 
result, all of the stairs of the royal cemetery have been severely 
damaged and some of the large hulls are now cracked. The site 
is littered with trash. Kish suffered parallel damage when it too 
was used by the occupation forces as a military camp. 

The powerlessness of Iraqis to protect cultural heritage was 
made personally evident when, on May 24, 2007, I served as 
chairman of the State Board of Antiquities. An American military 
convoy arrived at my office at the Iraqi Museum and demanded 
to enter the compound. When I refused to grant admission, they 
broke down the gates. I refused again to allow them to enter the 
museum building itself. They proffered a strange letter in Arabic, 
addressed to "Dear Colleague" but without a signature, declaring 
this group to belong to the US Embassy in Baghdad, and that they 
were authorized to enter the museum. I reiterated that this was 

Cultural Cleans 

insufficient. At this point I threatened to call the United Nations 
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and 
report the incident and potential damage to the Iraqi Museum. 
Only then did they leave. 

It is regrettable that I must also report that there were foreign 
archaeologists who came to occupied Iraq. They proceeded to 
conduct highly suspect excavations without the permission of 
the Iraqi state. Particularly disturbing is the case of the Italian 
Giovanni Pettinato who announced the discovery of some 500 
cuneiform tablets at Eridu. He subsequently claimed a find ten 
times that number. Then, in a strange twist, he explained that he 
meant stamps on bitumen and not actual tablets. All of this is 
highly suspect since it is impossible to believe that a professional 
archaeologist could mistake stamps for tablets. This bizarre case 
remains a mystery since until now it is not clear if any tablets were 
in fact discovered. Nor has there been any satisfactory explanation 
of how a civilian archaeologist got access to the sites through his 
country's military presence in occupied Iraq. It should be noted 
that such activities would seem to be a breach of the Hague 
Convention of the protection of cultural heritage in war. 

As a result of neglect and continual assaults, Iraq's archaeological 
heritage is severely compromised. There exists extensive damage 
to all major sites in Iraq, including Ur, Uruk, Nippur, Babylon, all 
the khans (al-Rubua, al-Utashi, al-Musala, 4 al-Hamad, al-Nus, 
etc.), al-Kefel, Ctesiphon, Aqerquf, 5 Assur, Nimrud, Nineveh, 
Hatra, Kirkuk citadel, Arbil citadel, the old town of Basra, the 
Islamic capital Wasit, the Islamic capitals of Kufa, and Samarra, 
as well as all the major museums and all of the libraries. 

A survey of archaeological damage would be incomplete without 
mention of relevant acts of terrorism and criminality. Armed 
elements have attacked unique monuments including al-Khilani 
and al-Gailani, mosques in Baghdad as well as al-Sarafiya bridge, 
al-Askari golden dome in Sammara, Anna minaret, al-Khder in 
Kbesa, Yehya ben al-Qasem, and Aon al-Deen in Mosul, and many 
shrines across Iraq, though especially in areas controlled by armed 
factions as in parts of Baghdad, Diyala, Ramadi, and Salahadin. 

Current Status of Archaeological Heritage of Iraq 89 

An Overview of the Iraqi Cultural Heritage 

To enable the non-specialized reader to absorb the terrible loss 
Iraqis and all humanity has suffered, it is essential to provide a 
historical survey of Iraqi culture. Such a concise survey can be 
divided into two main historical periods, the ancient and the 
Islamic. Each of these periods has several important divisions, as 
summarized below. 

The Uruk and Early Dynastic Periods 6 

This "ancient" period in Iraq dates back to the fourth millennium 
BCE when the inhabitants of ancient Iraq invented the world's 
first system of writing, using reeds and clay tablets. Among the 
most significant sites for the fourth and third millennia BCE are: 
Uruk, Eridu, Shurrupak, Badtebera, Lagash, Umma, Ur, Nippur, 
Abusalabikh, Kesura, Puzur-Dagan, and Kish. 

The Akkadian Empire 

This era began when Sargon the Akkadian (2334-2279 BCE) 
unified the Sumerian city-states, establishing the first empire in 
the history of the world. This earlier unification of city states 
in the south had occurred c.2371 BCE under Lugal-Zagesi, but 
Sargon established a far reaching empire, well beyond the lands 
of southern Mesopotamia. The city of Akkad served as the seat of 
an empire that extended from the Gulf to the Mediterranean sea, 
including Elam and Anatolia. The most prominent sites from this 
period are: Babylon, Sippar, Marad, Tell Brak (in Syria), Kutha, 
and Eshnunna. 

The Ur III Empire 

During the rule of the last Akkadian King, Sharkalisharri, the 
Gutians conquered Akkad and destroyed it. Utu-hengal, the 
Sumerian king of Uruk, waged a liberation struggle to drive out 
the Gutians. In the ashes of the Gutians, Ur-Nammu, one of the 

90 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Sumerian leaders, successfully established a new empire that is 
known as the Ur III Dynasty (2112-2004 BCE). The capital city 
was Ur itself. The cultural influence of the Sumerians spread out to 
distant lands as far as Elam, Anatolia, the Indus Valley, Meluhha, 
Dilmun, and Magan. It can be said that there is an archaeological 
level dated to the third dynasty of Ur in all the sites in Iraq and 
some outside as well. 

The Old Babylonian Period (Also Known as the 
Ammorite Period) 

This period began at the end of the reign of Ibbi-Sin, the last king 
of the Ur III dynasty. Naplanum, the king of Larsa, founded the 
dynasty of Larsa (2025-1763 BCE). Then Ishbi-Erra established 
an independent dynasty in Isin. It is known as the first dynasty of 
Isin (2017-1794 BCE). The Elamites subsequently conquered Ur 
and destroyed it. For this reason part of the old Babylonian period 
is known as the Isin-Larsa period. Subsequently, the dynasties 
were established at Babylon I, Der, Eshnunna, Sippar, Mari, 
Marad, and Assur and Uruk. 

The Reign of Hammurabi 

The celebrated King Hammurabi unified the competing dynasties 
to establish the third empire in the ancient history of Iraq. It ended 
in 1595 BCE when the Hittites conquered the city of Babylon. 
The empire was left to the Kassites who ruled until c.1160 BCE. 
The capital city, initially Babylon, was later built anew, in Dur- 
Kurigalzu, to the west of Baghdad. Subsequently, the Elamites 
conquered Babylon and plundered the sanctuary and cult statue 
of the most important Babylonian god, Marduk, as they had 
done to the sacred precincts when they conquered Ur in 2004 
BCE desecrating relics of the Sumerian god Sin. 

The Assyrian Empire 

Although the Assyrians established their first dynasty of Assyria 
in the time of Shamshi Adad I in the north of Mesopotamia 

Current Status of Archaeological Heritage of Iraq 91 

they were subject to the Babylonian Empire in the time of the 
king Hammurabi and his successors. In c.911 BCE, the Assyrians 
established the first Assyrian Empire and the fourth empire in 
the history of ancient Iraq. They ruled an area from the Gulf in 
the south to Anatolia in the north and from Elam in the east to 
Egypt in the west. The Assyrian Empire fell to an alliance between 
Babylonian King Nabopolassar and the Median King Kashtaritu 
(Cyaxares) in c.612 BCE. The most important Assyrian capital 
cities are Assur, Nimrud, and Nineveh. 

The Neo-Babylonian Period 

This era began when Nabopolassar established the eleventh 
dynasty of Babylon, making Babylon the capital for his empire, 
the fifth empire in the ancient history of Iraq. The most famous 
Neo-Babylonian ruler was Nebuchadnezzar II who ruled the same 
extensive territory as the preceding Assyrian Empire. There are 
numerous, dispersed sites of this era remaining, some within Iraq, 
others outside. These ruins include beautiful monuments such as 
the gate of Ishtar and the Street of Processions of Babylon, as well 
as many temples. Babylon was the place of the legendary hanging 
gardens which Herodotus mentions and were considered to be 
among the wonders of the ancient world. This empire ended when 
the Achaemenid King Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. 

The Late Periods 

This period began with the fall of Babylon and is divided into 
the eras of the Achaemenid rule, Alexander the Great, and the 
Seleucid dynasty followed by the Parthians and the Sasanian. The 
most important cities are Hatra, Ctesiphon, and Seleucia on the 
Tigris, Hera, Manathera, and the ruins of some castles. 

The Islamic Heritage 

The Islamic period was initiated with Islam's expansion following 
the battle of Qadisiya between the Sassanians and Muslim forces. 

92 Cultural Clean; 

The history of the Islamic period is divided into the Caliphate: 
Omayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman and later periods. There are five 
Islamic capital cities associated with this period: Basra, Kufa, 
Wasit, Baghdad, and Samarra. There are also numerous traditional 
buildings in several cities of Iraq that belong to this period, 
including mosques, sepulchers, religious schools, khans, baths, 
forts and castles. In addition, there are also traditional houses 
of architectural interest in all Iraqi cities, notably in Basra with 
its ornaments of Shanasheel, as well as in Hilla, Najaf, Kerbala, 
Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and Erbil. 

Iraq has many museums and libraries with holdings from the 
era of the Caliphates, notably, the Iraqi National Museum, the 
Military Museum, the Modern Fine Arts Museum, the Natural 
History Museum, and the Baghdad Museum. In addition, there 
are private museums as well as provincial museums, including 
those at Nasiriyah, Mesan, Diwaniya, Najaf, Babylon, Ramadi, 
Tikrit, Mosul, Erbil, and Sulaymania. There is also the National 
Library and State Archives in Baghdad as well as public libraries 
in the provinces. 


1. Or Tullul al-Dhahir. 

2. OrZibliyat. 

3. OrAlwelaia. 

4. Or Al-Musalla. 

5. Also known as Tell abu Shijer. 

6. While archaeological sites and settlements in Iraq go back to 
about 8000 BC, the earliest evidence for complex urban societies, 
the rise of cities and the invention of writing begins in the fourth 
millennium BC. 



Nabil al-Tikriti 

Those who control the present, control the past. Those who control the past, 
control the future. 

George Orwell 

Where one burns books, one will soon burn people. 

Heinrich Heine 2 

Years ago, while roaming the stacks of one of the world's truly 
great research libraries, an epiphany bubbled to the surface of 
my substance-enlivened consciousness. Instead of seeing the 
usual information-packed inanimate objects lying on shelves, I 
suddenly envisioned a cacophony of passionate debates, insults, 
romances, genocide defenses, patriarchy justifications, and 
all the other phenomena one might find in such a vessel filled 
with millions of texts in hundreds of languages. As they were 
organized both topically and regionally, that night the books on 
my floor of specialization harangued me in shelving blocs - fiery 
Albanian nationalists here, pious Hanafi jurisprudents two rows 
across, followed by stern Ottoman apologists and whispering 
Sufi sensualists. I pondered what the complete absence of such 
books would mean. At least the cacophony would end, I figured 
- but what then? 

While this personal anecdote might resemble a form of insanity 
g a call to burly men in white coats, I introduce it to illustrate 

94 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

the role of written knowledge to humankind. Without such texts, 
there are no recorded debates. Without such records, one must 
re-invent every argument - and loud new texts may successfully 
come to dominate that recently silenced conversation. 

This chapter addresses a limited form of such an outcome 
- the cultural patrimony lost since the 2003 Anglo-American 
attempt to remake Iraq. One scholar, Keith Watenpaugh, has 
categorized such losses as "mnemocide," defined as the murder of 
cultural memory. 3 Nada Shabout and others have spoken about a 
"systematic campaign to erase Iraq's collective memory." 4 Official 
pronouncements were opaque in terms of intent regarding the 
protection of cultural property. However, Bush administration 
policies have clearly proven mnemocidal in effect - regardless of 
original intent. If such policies have not constituted active murder 
of cultural memory, at the very least they must be categorized as 
passive and negligent mnemocide. 

Invasion Policies 

When addressing the looting of April 2003, it is widely stated that 
US military planners either planned poorly for the post-invasion 
occupation, committed insufficient troops to secure vital facilities, 
or both. While these points have been effectively confirmed by a 
series of internal and external reviews, 5 such a limited explanation 
ignores the knowledge made publicly available prior to the 
invasion concerning the value of cultural facilities; downplays 
the selection process for deeming certain strategic and economic 
sites worthy of protection in spite of limited military resources; 
fails to mention several active seizures of Iraqi collective assets; 
largely shifts blame away from Pentagon planners and towards 
commanders in the field; and shields the Bush administration 
from all intentionality vis-a-vis the protection of Iraqi cultural 
facilities. Although many excuses have been provided, the fact 
remains that throughout several days of widespread looting the 
US chain of command continued to operate without interruption. 
Civilian officials based in Washington clearly had charge of 
operational priorities. 

Prior to the invasion, a vibrant and public discussion of the 
necessity to protect Iraq's rich cultural patrimony culminated 
in a document submitted to the US Department of State by a 
number of regional experts, listing and ranking facilities requiring 
protection in case of invasion. 6 Pentagon officials were briefed 
by several Iraq experts about the potential for looting of cultural 
treasures, the location and significance of specific facilities, and 
the legal imperatives concerning protection of cultural patrimony. 7 
Although the experts' list of significant cultural facilities was 
publicly recognized and discussed - and the facilities in question 
never targeted by the US military during the invasion - it was 
completely discounted by Pentagon planners once the looting 
began. Instead, such planners opted to protect certain Iraqi 
facilities chosen according to American perceptions of their 
economic or military value. 

Specifically, Iraq experts prioritized protection of the National 
Museum and several other facilities of cultural, historical, 
or national value. However, throughout the first week of the 
occupation in Baghdad, planners instead chose to station troops 
for protection of sites considered important for US strategic 
interests? Such sites suffered minimal looting damage at most, 
and in some cases no damage whatsoever. Strikingly, the only 
one of over twenty ministry headquarters judged worthy of 
protection was the Ministry of Oil, which held the records most 
useful for US economic engagement - or exploitation - in Iraq. 
All other ministries, vital for maintenance of Iraqi state cohesion, 
bureaucratic management, or the rule of law, were left completely 
unprotected - as their functions and assets were not considered 
vital for US interests. The same criterion was applied to all 
cultural facilities. 

Matthew Bogdanos, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve 
who served during the 2003 invasion and led the US military 
investigation into the Iraqi National Museum looting, provided 
several military explanations suggesting that in most aspects US 
actions were correct, legal, and defensible. Since the museum 
facility had been used as a defensive position during the hostilities 
and chaos between April 8 and 11, 2003, it forfeited its protected 

96 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

status. If troops had attacked the looters with sufficient firepower 
to secure the facility, little would have remained of the complex. 
Sending only a few troops or a single tank to prevent the looting 
would have risked unacceptable American casualties. Troops were 
under orders not to fire "warning shots" under any circumstances, 
apparently in a bid to reduce the possibility of violent escalation 
and subsequent civilian deaths. While Bogdanos has conceded 
that the absence of a US troop presence at the museum after 
the looting had subsided by April 12 was "inexcusable," this 
should be characterized as a military planning mistake reflecting 
American lack of urgency, insufficient troop strength, and the 
dangers of "catastrophic success." 9 

While Bogdanos' explanations are persuasive in isolation, 
certain points prove problematic if one steps back and examines 
the hostilities as a whole. The lack of "boots on the ground" 
obliged military planners considering the "economy of risk" to 
transfer such risk from US troops to Iraqi civilians while rendering 
cultural facility protection impossible during the first week of 
the occupation. 10 While planners were unwilling to risk troop 
casualties for the protection of the Iraqi National Museum - let 
alone the less famous cultural facilities discussed further below 
- no such hesitation was evident for the protection of the facilities 
deemed of military or economic value. Meanwhile, the orders 
troops were given not to fire warning shots apparently limited 
their response options to either lethal fire or non-response. On 
the one hand, such orders prevented soldiers from firing in the 
air to restore order during the looting. At the same time, these 
orders appear to have encouraged other troops in a similar 
situation later in the same month to open up with lethal fire on 
a protesting crowd in Fallujah, causing 17 deaths. In yet another 
case, during the same week that massed crowds were engaging 
in widespread looting throughout Baghdad, American troops 
reportedly killed an armed guard at the Qadiriyyah manuscript 
collection on the assumption that all armed Iraqis were hostile. 
Such calculations intended to externalize casualties in the name of 
force protection and minimizing military casualties, contributed 
to the vulnerability of Iraqi cultural facilities in the midst of 

chaos. They also demonstrated the relative valuation of American 
military planners. 

The occupying powers, primarily the government of the United 
States, argued that the cultural destruction experienced was not 
intentional. Yet, it is nevertheless true that it transpired with the 
direct acquiescence of civilian war planners who had been quick 
to trumpet their strategic genius and operational efficiency in the 
days and weeks of "shock and awe" prior to the mass looting of 
April 2003. For this reason, US government liability for losses 
sustained by Iraqi cultural facilities in the wake of the 2003 
invasion remains an issue open for future pursuit. 11 

Several hours of looting can be considered a failure of policy, 
but several days of looting can only be seen as a policy of failure. 
In addition, several facilities continued to suffer damage long 
after the first week of occupation. All but a handful have received 
absolutely nothing in the form of American assistance. Most of 
the initial traumas suffered by these collections began two or more 
days after the April 8, 2003 entry of US troops into Baghdad and 
continued for several days - until international media attention 
appears to have forced a policy change on or around April 14, 
2003. 12 Several of the more important facilities were concentrated 
in two small areas which had a sufficient US troop presence (two 
or three tank crews) in the area to prevent the events described 
below. However, when Iraqi staff members asked US soldiers 
to protect the facilities in question, the invariable response was 
either that "we are soldiers not policemen," or that "our orders 
do not extend to protecting this facility." 13 It later emerged that 
such responses were offered only after checking with superiors 
up the chain of command. 14 

Why might US officials allow such destruction to visit Iraq's 
national patrimony? When considered against the extensive 
background of efforts to protect equivalent facilities of cultural 
patrimony in Europe during World War II, coupled with the 
general lack of equivalent efforts in Asian arenas during that 
same conflict, it seems reasonable to suggest that a lack of 
common cultural sympathy was at play. 15 American sympathy 
toward Iraqi cultural losses at times seemed to resemble that of 

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

an individual who sympathizes with his neighbors who have lost 
their photographs and heirlooms in a fire. However, he feels no 
sense of personal loss at his neighbor's losses and is not averse to 
retaining his neighbor's property title, seized after the fire. 

At the time, political leaders of the invading powers promised to 
provide a fresh start for Iraqi society. Prior to the Anglo-American 
invasion of Iraq in March 2003, several Bush administration 
officials promised a complete remaking of Iraqi society in the 
interests of spreading democracy, freedoms, liberty, and a "new 
Middle East." Not surprisingly, the creation of something new 
necessarily entails the destruction of what preceded it. The more 
ambitious the creation, the more extreme the destruction. Certain 
American officials hoped that such looting would clean the slate 
and smooth the way for their reconstruction of Iraqi society in 
an image more amenable to their tastes. John Agresto, in charge 
of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in 
2003-04, initially believed that the looting of Iraq's universities 
was a positive act in that it would allow such institutions to begin 
again with a clean slate, with the newest equipment as well as a 
brand new curriculum. 16 

In an effort to "blame the victim," apologists for US 
occupation policy have whenever possible assigned blame for 
the cultural destruction to Iraqi actors. While most of the looting 
of government facilities appears to have been carried out by 
indigent locals, attacks on several cultural sites were carried out 
by organized provocateurs whose identity remains a mystery years 
after the event. Some commentators have accused certain Iraqi 
staff members of being Ba'athist operatives who looted their own 
facilities. 17 Outside of credible claims concerning such insider 
vandalism at the National Library and Archives, no collection 
appears to have been intentionally damaged by staff. Indeed, most 
staff members continued to work in trying circumstances, initially 
without pay or assurance of future job security. 18 

Baghdad Archives and Manuscript Collections 

While international attention has focused primarily on the 
immense destruction done to the country's pre-Islamic archaeo- 

logical assets, domestic Iraqi and regional attention has focused 
equally on the losses suffered by the country's Islamic and modern 
cultural patrimony, including certain key manuscript collections, 
archives, art museums, monuments, and artifact collections. 19 
Although several reports have addressed the state of some or 
all of these collections, much of the information concerning 
these collections remains inconclusive due to a continuing lack 
of transparency in the Iraqi domestic sphere. There, reports are 
therefore open to correction and clarification in the future. 20 To 
be fully certain of the post-invasion status of these collections, a 
national survey remains necessary. Until such time, the account 
that follows provides a summary of what is now known of the 
current conditions of several key facilities and collections. 

The Iraqi National Library and Archives (INLA), the country's 
primary research facility and publication deposit library, featured 
particularly strong collections of Arabic periodicals, government 
documents dating back to Ottoman rule, and over a million 
books. Located directly across from the Ministry of Defense, 
it was burned and looted on two occasions, April 10 and April 
12-13, 2003. 21 The fires at the National Library were set pro- 
fessionally, with accelerants. Although the burn damage seemed 
complete from outside the building, it later emerged that the 
main reading room and lobby suffered most of the damage. An 
iron door leading to the stacks had been sealed. 22 According to 
Saad Eskander, the INLA Director-General since December 2003, 
three days prior to the invasion staff members were instructed 
to destroy all archival material related to Ba'athist rule. In the 
event, Eskander stated that the burning and looting was carried 
out by a mix of poor people looking for quick profit and regime 
loyalists intent on destroying evidence of atrocities. Altogether, 
an estimated 25 percent of the library's book holdings were 
destroyed. The newspaper and periodical collection, said to be 
one of the largest in the Arab world, appears to have emerged 
largely without damage. 23 

As frustrating as the lack of protection for the INLA in April 
2003 has been the overall lack of assistance of the international 
community to help rebuild and reconstitute the facility. Italian 

100 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

and Czech institutions have been the notable exceptions. Over 
six years have passed since the initial destruction, and the 
US government has to date provided a modest set of vacuum 
cleaners and funded staff training initiatives through the National 
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Harvard University's 
Committee on Iraqi Libraries found itself unable to provide 
advanced preservation training to INLA staff in the US when 
these Iraqi librarians were refused visas. The committee was 
able, however, to provide preservation workshops to Iraqi staff 
in Sulaymania and Amman. 24 While such absence of assistance 
and presence of impediments can be blamed on poor coordination 
and a lack of domestic attention, from an Iraqi perspective it 
appears to be at least a case of misplaced priorities and at most 
an intentional policy of passive neglect. 

Perhaps the most valuable collection held by the INLA included 
the Ottoman/Hash emite Archives, which boasted government 
documents dating from the Hashemite (pre-1958) and Ottoman 
(pre-1917) eras. Prior to the invasion, this collection was removed 
from INLA and placed in the basement of the General Board 
of Tourism. Although this collection escaped the initial round 
of burning and looting, in August 2003 the basement was 
flooded in unknown circumstances. In October 2003, the cache 
was discovered and transferred to the warehouse of an Iraqi 
businessman associated with the Coalition Provisional Authority 
(CPA). Following a visit by a US Library of Congress delegation, 
the documents were transferred in December 2003 to cool storage 
in the former Iraqi Officers' Club complex. Since these documents 
were stored for a period in cool rather than frozen storage - with 
inconsistent electricity at the cooling facility - they continued to 
deteriorate, albeit at a slower rate than when first discovered in 
the flooded basement in 2003. Saad Eskander has estimated that 
60 percent of these Ottoman and Hashemite documents have 
been irretrievably lost. This collection, which may represent the 
highest priority for textual preservation in all of Iraq, has in 
recent years been undergoing steady preservation efforts by the 
ted INLA staff. 

Negligent Mnemocide 101 

Established in 1920, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious 
Affairs Central Library (Awqaf Library) is the oldest public 
manuscript collection in Iraq. A modern two story facility located 
near the Ministry of Health, the library held waqfiyya religious 
endowment documents and approximately 7,000 manuscripts, 
mostly concentrated in religious fields. The library also held 
over 45,000 printed books, including some 6,000 rare Ottoman 
Turkish published works. The facility was completely destroyed 
by fire on April 13 or 14, 2003, more than four days after looting 
had started elsewhere in the city. According to staff members, 
the library suffered a well-organized and intentional looting 
and burning by foreign provocateurs. 25 These Arabic-speaking 
teams carted away some 22 trunks of manuscripts and used 
accelerants to burn the entire facility within 15 minutes. They 
filmed their actions the entire time. Ten trunks were burned in 
the fire, destroying approximately 600-700 manuscripts. Most 
of the burned and stolen manuscripts came from three prominent 
family collections temporarily stored at the Awqaf Library for 
their protection. 26 Since staff members had taken steps to protect 
the collection, approximately 5,250 out of the facility's total 7,000 
manuscripts were moved to an off-site storage space prior to the 
burning and looting. These manuscripts were then placed under 
armed protection in what remains an undisclosed location. As this 
location remains unknown to the general public six years after 
these events, only time will tell whether these manuscripts will one 
day be returned to a reconstituted Awqaf Library. There has never 
been an official investigation of this case of organized destruction. 
To date, this facility has received no meaningful international 
assistance. 27 Any future reconstitution of this collection and recon- 
struction of this facility will inherently be complicated by the 
post-2003 splitting up of the Ministry of Endowments into three 
directorates, one each serving Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and 
all religious minorities including Christians. 

The Iraqi House of Manuscripts (Dar al-Makhtutat al-'Iraqiyya), 
with approximately 47,000 manuscripts, was by far the largest 
such collection in Iraq. 28 Prior to the invasion, all manuscripts 
were moved to a bomb shelter, while microfilms were moved to 

102 Cultural Cleans 

two other undisclosed locations. As far as is known, this bomb 
shelter housed nearly 800 steel trunks, containing nearly 50,000 
manuscripts and several thousand rare books. 29 Considering that 
the bomb shelter where the manuscripts were stored was not 
included on the US military's "no target" list, it is indeed fortunate 
that it was never bombed. On three occasions in April 2003 
looters tried and failed to force the doors and loot the shelter, 
but on each occasion locals reportedly chased the looters away 
and burned their vehicles. In late April 2003 US forces attempted 
to remove trunks and transport them to the National Museum, 
which was by then under US protection. Due to growing mistrust 
of American intentions following the looting earlier that month, 
neighborhood locals protested and successfully prevented this 
attempted move. 

As the Iraqi House of Manuscripts facility is based in a set of 
houses appropriated by the state in 1983, it is unclear whether 
the collection will ultimately be returned to that same location. 
Since 2003 at least three different directors have been appointed 
to manage the collection, which remained until recently locked 
away in the bomb shelter. Although the shelter was said to be 
climate-controlled, it is unclear whether long-term storage in 
this location might have damaged the collection. The former 
director, Osama Naqshbandi, has claimed in recent years that 
some manuscripts were removed by US forces in 2003. Since this 
statement somewhat contradicts what he said in May 2003, some 
observers worry that the collection may have been disturbed over 
the years. The collection has reportedly been recently moved to 
another site, and rumors have surfaced that the Kashif al-Ghita 
Foundation has been exerting pressure to be allowed access to 
the collection in order to carry out microfilming. There is concern 
that some of the collection may have been sold off in the past 
five years, and that Kashif al-Ghita's desire for access may not 
be entirely innocent. 

The Iraqi Academy of Sciences is a fully independent research 
facility dating back to the Hashemite period. Considered an 
"Iraqi Academie Francaise," the Academy held collections 
of manuscripts, periodicals, foreign-language books, and 

Negligent Mnemocide 103 

unpublished theses. 30 According to staff members, the pillage 
started after a US tank crew crashed through the facility's front 
gate, rolled over and crushed the facility's main sign, removed 
the Iraqi flag flying at the entrance, and left. Following that cue, 
neighborhood indigents swarmed over the facility and stripped 
it of all computers, air conditioners, electrical fixtures, furniture, 
and vehicles. The fact that the Academy was not burned and that 
many books were not looted suggests that its looting was not as 
organized as was the case with some other facilities. Although 
several hundred manuscripts had been transferred in recent years 
to the Iraqi House of Manuscripts, the Academy still held over 
2,000 manuscripts and 58,000 published works in April 2003. 31 
Over half of the Academy's collection of 58,000 published works 
was looted, and all manuscripts left on site were taken during the 
looting. Since a published catalogue of the Academy's manuscript 
collection was incomplete, and all on site catalogues were lost 
with the manuscripts, it is not entirely known what has been 
lost. 32 Since 2003 the Academy has returned to operation, but 
it is still unknown at this time how much of the collection has 
been reconstituted. 

The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikma), a semi-private center 
supporting research in the arts and humanities, was completely 
burned and looted. Located right next to the Ministry of Defense, 
on the site of a thirteenth century madrasa complex and the first 
Iraqi parliament, it housed a lecture auditorium, music hall, 
printing press, computer lab, Western publications library, and 
a library of Middle Eastern publications. The main building 
complex was extensively looted on April 11-12, 2003, and 
partially burned. 33 Staff who witnessed the looting were convinced 
that the looters were instigated by unknown provocateurs. As 
the House of Wisdom was not officially authorized to collect 
manuscripts, its collection only held about 100 manuscripts. 
Although a small collection, some of these manuscripts were of 
high value. The entire collection was lost. 34 Outside of limited US 
funding targeted for repurchasing their own holdings from the 
local book market in 2003, the House of Wisdom has received no 

104 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

significant international assistance. The current status of certain 
other collections within Baghdad remains largely unknown. 35 

The Iraqi Jewish Archives was found partially flooded in a 
former intelligence bureau basement in May 2003. Promptly 
frozen and removed by CPA officials for restoration efforts by 
the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 
the cache has remained in the US since its removal. According to 
a 2003 NARA report, the collection included "16th-20th century 
Jewish rare books, correspondence and document files, pamphlets, 
modern books, audio tape and parchment scrolls." 36 The NARA 
report estimated that $US 1.5-3 million would be required to 
fully rescue and preserve the collection. However, in May 2005 
National Public Radio reported that documentation restoration 
efforts were stalled due to shortage of funds. 37 Some resentment 
has been expressed by Iraqi observers about the immense effort 
undertaken by occupation officials in 2003 to salvage this cache 
when considered against the relative lack of urgency demonstrated 
for the Ottoman/Hashemite Archives referred to above. At the 
same time, palpable tension has arisen concerning the eventual 
disposition of the collection. The Babylonian Jewry Heritage 
Center has expressed interest in displaying recovered parts 
of the collection in its museum outside of Tel Aviv following 
the completion of NARA preservation efforts. 38 Former Iraqi 
National Museum Director Donny George has stated that CPA 
officials had signed a protocol allowing for a two-year loan of 
the materials to the US for preservation, after which they were 
meant to be returned to Iraq. NARA officials and the Library 
of Congress have not yet stated their intentions concerning the 
return of these materials to Iraq or elsewhere. Although this cache 
should be considered of Iraqi collective provenance, copies should 
be made of the entire collection for preservation backup and 
research retrieval. 

In 2007 it emerged that American soldiers in Mosul had taken 
a roughly 400-year-old Torah out of an abandoned building and 
arranged for the manuscript's smuggling out of the country. A 
book dealer then took the Torah and sold it to a Reform Jewish 
congregation in suburban Maryland. Media reports stated that the 

Torah was "rescued," even though it had survived for c 
in Mosul only to be whisked from its place of refuge and turned 
over to an individual who broke the manuscript into 60 pieces 
in order to complete the act of smuggling. 39 

As with the Mosul Torah, in certain ways US officials 
participated in the reordering of Iraqi informational assets after the 
invasion. Contrasting the laissez-faire attitude displayed toward 
the looting of manuscript collections was the active military 
takeover of certain contemporary Iraqi government document 
collections, control over which would be highly beneficial for US 
interests. For example, in the course of the post-invasion search 
for weapons of mass destruction, Pentagon officials centralized 
millions of pages of captured Iraqi government documents in a 
single collection currently held in Qatar. This collection has not 
yet been completely catalogued, although most of it appears to 
have been digitized, with the digital images held at the National 
Defense University. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has pledged 
that the original documents will ultimately be returned to Iraq 
once conditions allow and that the collection will be open for 
researchers once correct monitoring and usage systems have been 
established. There is a great deal of sensitivity over this collection 
and those like it because individuals named in documents of the 
former Iraqi government could be blackmailed. As the situation 
somewhat parallels that of the Stasi Archives of East Germany, 
similar precautions and protections are likely to be instituted 
before research access will be allowed. 

Kanan Makiya removed the Ba'ath Party Archives from the 
Iraqi Ba'ath Party Headquarters in 2003, stored them at his family 
home within the Green Zone for some years, and at some point 
transported the collection to California with US government 
logistical assistance. Since that time, Makiya's Iraq Memory 
Foundation (IMF) has claimed stewardship over the cache, and 
has turned the collection over to Stanford University's Hoover 
Institute. INLA Director-General Saad Eskander has forcefully 
contested the IMF's rights to dispose of the cache, and the matter 
remains under dispute. 40 

106 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Provincial Manuscript Collections 

Prior to 2003 there were several provincial collections in Iraq, with 
most governorate seats boasting at least one modest manuscript 
library. 41 There were especially notable collections in Basra, 42 
Mosul, 43 Najaf, 44 and Kerbala. 45 The post-2003 state of these 
collections remains almost completely unknown in the public 
realm. This lack of public information encourages opaqueness 
in the management of such collections and the potential sale of 
manuscripts. It is therefore imperative that a national survey of 
these collections be made as soon as security conditions allow. 

One of the more tragic, if somewhat tragi-comic, stories of the 
damages sustained in the course of the 2003 invasion concerns 
the events which affected the Mosul Center for Turkish Studies 
and the Basra Center for Gulf Studies. 46 Prior to the invasion, 
Mosul's collection of Ottoman documents and manuscripts was 
reportedly sent to Basra's Center for Gulf Studies and Basra's 
collection of "Iranian documents" was sent to Mosul. Apparently 
the Iraqi government had decided on a provincial preservation 
strategy whereby if Turkish forces should enter from the north, 
they would only find Persian documents, and if Iranian forces 
should enter Basra, they would only find Ottoman documents. 
Unfortunately, the Center for Gulf Studies was completely burned 
in the war, and Mosul's entire collection of Ottoman documents 
was lost. The "Iranian documents" held in Mosul are said to be 
fine. An Iraqi academic, although not in a position to know all the 
collection's details, reported that to the best of his knowledge the 
Ottoman collection held somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 
items, a mixture of manuscripts and documents. Mosul's former 
Center for Turkish Studies was renamed the Center for Regional 
Studies in 2004. 

Relative Human Valuation and the Collapse of 
Collective Memory 

Why is it that those who lose everything in a fire, flood, or some 
other natural disaster lament the loss of their family photographs 

Negligent Mnemocide 107 

and heirlooms more than their car, stereo, or appliances? Even 
though such elements of transportation, entertainment, and 
consumerist ease of living ensure the minimum requirements 
necessary for a "bourgeois" lifestyle, they do so devoid of 
any material individuality. What sets us apart from others are 
antiques, photographs, records, heirlooms, and other artifacts, 
especially those that document our familial or individual pasts. 
By connecting us to our past, the existence of such items also 
promises to preserve the connection into a remembered future. 
Without such artifacts, there is no memory. 

Are mass societies so different from the abstracted individuals 
and families presented here? Considering the 2003 destruction 
of several prominent cultural treasures of the Iraqi national 
patrimony, it would seem not. In Iraq's case, during a period 
of great chaotic flux, one country under occupation lost a great 
deal of its connection to its past while certain occupying powers 
profited from that loss in a variety of ways. 

While all humans are created equal, certain types of individuals 
are treated more equally than others. Some 5.4 million individuals 
have died from war-related causes in Congo in the past ten years, 47 
yet have attracted far less attention worldwide than the several 
hundred thousand who have died from conflict in Iraq since 2003, 
the 1,191 Lebanese who died from violence in the summer of 
2006, 48 or the hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis who 
have died from domestic attacks since sectarian conflict broke 
out in 2001. How does one account for this hierarchy of human 
valuation, whereby certain lives and deaths are valued by the 
international community far more than others? One can attribute 
such valuation to corporate pressures on media presentation 
(whereby human valuation follows their relevance as sources of 
advertising revenue), tribal and/or national solidarity (whereby all 
groups only value members of their own group), financial holdings 
(whereby only the wealthy are valued), racism, relative economic 
or political power, and many other factors. In addition to each of 
these factors, one might add relative cultural valuation, measured 
by the amount of material records of the past held by a society. 

108 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

None of these factors are constant, with all of them capable of 
adjusting quite quickly in times of conflict. 

Why is it that societies boasting few material records of the 
past tend to be valued less than those in possession of them, and 
why is there such a desire for individuals and societies to collect 
artifacts demonstrating past value? The absence of such artifacts 
signifies a lack of connection to the past, which in turn signifies 
cultural poverty to those with strong roots somewhere, local or 
otherwise. In times of peace, families anchor their social value 
in such artifacts. Very little can be done to change quickly what 
is normally a slowly evolving collection of such connections to 
the past. In times of war, however, individuals and societies can 
quickly gain or lose such stature in a situation of great flux. 

One of the major effects of the "mnemocide" suffered in Iraq 
is to reduce the relative human valuation of the individuals who 
are the bearers of that cultural memory. One example of this 
phenomenon is the lack of respect shown by US soldiers at Iraq's 
Unknown Soldier Monument in Baghdad. While quartered in 
the Iraqi equivalent to Washington's Vietnam Memorial in the 
summer of 2003, soldiers closed the facility to the general public, 
parked armored personnel carriers in the marble courtyard, laid 
cots throughout the hall of martyrs, and posted exercise notices 
over the names of deceased Iraqi soldiers who fell fighting in the 
1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. 49 Soldiers normally tend not to wish the 
degradation of other soldiers' memories. However, in this case the 
general cultural alienation and lack of relative human valuation 
was sufficient to trump such norms of respect. 

Certain neo-conservative ideologues in 2003 hoped that 
new texts, debates, and ideas would come to dominate Iraq's 
collective memory once the past had been silenced like the hypo- 
thetically silenced library that introduces this chapter. Nada 
Shabout has suggested that CPA Head Paul Bremer and others 
engaged in a "systematic campaign to erase Iraq's collective 
memory," by facilitating the destruction of Iraq's modern art 
museum, political monuments, and other artifacts of recent Iraqi 
creativity. 50 Unfortunately, the push to remake Iraq has proven 
quite destructive of Iraq's collective memory, and by e 

its "social capital," defined as "a measure of how closely people 
in the community are interconnected." Although the process of 
social capital destruction in Iraq had arguably been building for 
several decades, the looting of April 2003 pushed Iraqi society over 
a psychological precipice evidenced by the complete breakdown 
of collective memory. 51 This social capital, once shattered, has 
proven exceedingly difficult t< 


1 . I would like to thank the US Institute of Peace for the support necessary 
to continue this research. I would also like to thank Jean-Marie 
Arnoult, Mary-Jane Deeb, Hala Fattah, Donny George, McGuire 
Gibson, Amanda Johnson, Charles Jones, Hakim Khaldi, Lital 
Levy, Ibrahim al-Marashi, Edouard Metenier, Osama Naqshbandi, 
Jeffrey Spurr, and Zayn al-Naqshbandi for various instances of 
informational and logistical assistance that went into the carrying 
out of this research. Further information concerning contacts and 
sources can be obtained either through my 2003 site report (cited 
below), or through contacting me at: 

2. Heinrich Heine, nineteenth century German poet, in his 1821 play 
Almansor, cited in Nikola von Merveldt, "Books Cannot Be Killed 
by Fire: The German Freedom Library and the American Library of 
Nazi-Banned Books as Agents of Cultural Memory," Library Trench. 
55:3 (2007), pp. 524, 532. 

3. Eliza Woodford, "Symposium: The Destruction of Civilization and 
the Obligations of Wai, ' v Record Onli 1 In University 
of Michigan, September 29, 2003, 
Sept29_03/10.shtml, accessed December 2008. 

4. Laura Wilkinson, "There is more to be mourned than Iraq's ancient 
treasures," Daily Star, April 18, 2008, 
a i iu:lc,asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&article_id=91145#, accessed 
December 2008. 

5. For an example, see Nora Bensahel et al., After Saddam: Prewar 
I'ii ItheOa p tion of Iraq, Santa Monica: RAND, 2008,, 
accessed December 2008. 

6. Prof. McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago made several 
appeals to US officials for Iraqi cultural protection in the weeks 
prior to the invasion. Bill Glauber, "Casualty Count Could Include 
Iraq Antiquities," Chicago Tribune, March 10, 2003, http://www., accessed December 2008. For a 

110 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

general discussion of US military policy concerning Iraqi cultural 
assets during the 2003 invasion, see Chalmers Johnson, "The 
Smash of Civilizations," 2005, 
mhtml?pid=4710 and Zainab Bahrani, "1 .noting and Conquest," The 
Nation, May 14, 2003, 
bahrani; websites accessed in December 2008. 

7. Such briefings included a January 2003 meeting held at the Pentagon, 
attended by high ranking representatives from the Departments 
of Defense and State, the American Council for Cultural Policy 
(ACCP), the Association of Art Museum Directors, and the American 
Association for Research in Baghdad. In 2005, allegations - since 
denied - arose that representatives of the ACCP had not acted in 
good faith at such meetings, using them to gain knowledge useful 
for illicit trade in cultural property, https://listhost.uchicago. 
edu/pipermail/iraqcrisis/2005-November/001396.html, accessed 
December 2008. 

8. These sites included the Ministry of Oil, the Saddam (Baghdad) 
International Airport, the Palestine Meridian and Ishtar Sheraton 
hotels, the Republican Palace, and several other locations that were 
later included in the "Green Zone" of international governance. 

9. Matthew Bogdanos, "Thieves of Baghdad," in Peter G. Stone and 
|i mi I u !> ikh Bajjaly (eds.), 1 Desi on oft 'titral H ii > 
in Iraq, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2008, pp. 109-17. 

10. For a discussion of the "economy of risk" during these hostilities, see 
Thomas W. Smith, "Protecting Civilians... or Soldiers? Humanitarian 
Law and the Economy of Risk in Iraq," International Studies 
Perspectives, 9 (2008), pp. 144-64. 

1 1 . For an excellent reference work and orientation to the relevant legal 
issues, see Patty Gerstenblith, "From Bamyan to Baghdad: Warfare 
and the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at the Beginning of the 
21st Century," Georgetown ]< U 1 il Law, 37:2 
(2006), pp. 245-351. Prof. Gerstenblith argues that international 
law concerning cultural patrimony was not broken in the course of 
the 2003 invasion, and that international law should be revised in 
order to reflect a series of developments first witnessed in conflicts 
which occurred after the 1954 Hague convention. 

12. From May 25 to 31, 2003, I visited Baghdad and interviewed a 
number of officials responsible for various manuscript collections, 
lifiiiu ni ( 1 1 siii ,i liia ilities. For the original situation 
report based on that visit, posted on the Iraq Crisis list on June 
8, 2003, see Nabil al-Tikriti, "Iraq Manuscript Collections, 
Archives, and Libraries Situation Report," (hereafter: al-Tikriti, 

Negligent Mnemocide 111 

2003),, accessed 
December 2008. 

13. Iraqi directors first approached US field commanders when looting 
broke out on April 10. Despite reassurances to the contrary, no 
protection was extended until April 14, after the looting had become 
an international scandal. Al-Tikriti, 2003. For an eyewitness account 
of the Iraqi National Museum looting, see Donny George, "The 
Looting of the Iraq National Museum," in Stone and Bajjaly, 
Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, pp. 97-107. 

14. According to Zainab Bahrani, "by 2007, Barbara Bodine, the 
U.S. ambassador at the time, revealed to Charles Ferguson in 
his documentary film No End in Sight that direct orders had 
come from Washington stating no one was to interfere with the 
looting," Guardian, April 9, 2008,, accessed 
December 2008. 

15. For a discussion of US cultural protection policy during World War 
II, see Kathy Peiss, "Cultural Policy in a Time of War: The American 
Response to Endangered Books in "World War II," Library Trend:;. 
55:3 (2007), pp. 370-86. 

16. Rajiv Chandrasekharan, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside 
Iraq's Green Zone,, New York: Vintage Books, 2006, p. 187. John 
Agresto later revised his judgment of the looting's legacy on Iraqi 
higher education. 

17. On June 8, 2003, British architectural historian and television 
presenter Dan Cruickshank - who had visited Iraq in late April 
2003 - first reported this claim vis-a-vis Iraqi National Museum 
staff on an ITV documentary entitled Raiders of the Lost Art. The 
allegation has since been repeated in some form or another by several 
subsequent commentators. 

18. In my own interviews and site visits, I encountered nothing to 
suggest that archival staff acted improperly vis-a-vis their respective 
collections. It seems self-evident that efforts of Iraqi staff to preserve 
their cultural heritage in the midst of invasion, social chaos, and 
occupation should be recognized and rewarded by the international 
community - not attacked by interested external parties. 

19. The focus here is on collections with unique holdings. Academically- 
affiliated research collections, which also suffered a great deal of 
loss, should in time and with sufficient support be able to duplicate 
and expand their pre-invasion holdings. 

20. The most significant reports to date concerning the post-invasion 
state of Iraq's manuscript collections, archives, and libraries include 
those by the following: Nabil al-Tikriti (2003), Jean-Marie Arnoult 

112 Cultural Cle 

(2003), Ian Johnson (2005), Edouard Metenier (2003), Zayn al- 
Naqshbandi (2004), Jeff Spurr (2005), Keith Watenpaugh et al. 
(2003), and Library of Congress (2003). For links to each of these 
reports, see the Middle East Librarians Association Committee on 
Iraqi Libraries (MELA) website: 
mela/melairaq.html, accessed December 2008. 

21. For further detail, see Ian M. Johnson, "The Impact on Libraries 
and Archives in Iraq of War and Looting in 2003 - a Preliminary 
Assessment of the Damage and Subsequent Reconstruction Efforts," 
I i i i i ill ' Li iry Rc'vit November 2005 
Jeff Spurr, "Indispensable yet Vulnerable: The Library in Dangerous 
Times. A Report on the Status of Iraqi Academic Libraries and a 
Survey of Efforts to Assist Them, with Historical Introduction," 
Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi Libraries, 
August 2005. 

22. Immediately following the initial round of destruction, staff and 
volunteers associated with a cleric named 'Abd al-Mun'im welded 
the door shut and began to remove as many books as they could 
transport to the cleric's al-Haqq Mosque in Sadr (formerly Saddam) 
City. The percentage of books removed was initially said to number 
roughly 40 percent of total holdings, but Saad Eskander later stated 
that the amount was closer to 5 percent of the total, and that many 
of the books suffered in the move and the storage conditions at the 
mosque. For more details, see Keith Watenpaugh, Edouard Metenier, 
Jens Hanssen, and Hala Fattah, "Opening the Doors: Intellectual 
Life and Academic Conditions in Post- War Baghdad, a Report of 
the Iraq Observatory," July 2003; and Saad Eskander conference 
presentation, posted by Ian Stringer, Iraq Crisis List, November 9, 

23. Saad Eskander conference presentation, 2004. 

24. For further details concerning international assistance to INLA since 
2003, see Jeff Spurr, "Iraqi Libraries and Archives in Peril: Survival 
in a Time of Invasion, Chaos, and Civil Conflict, a Report 2007,", accessed 
December 2008. 

25. Although the staff was convinced - as were most Iraqis - that 
Kuwaitis were behind this looting and burning, they admitted that 
they had no evidence to prove the assertion. Al-Tikriti, 2003. 

26. The three family collections included the Kamal al-Din al-Ta'i 
collection (250 manuscripts), Salih Salim Suhrawardi collection 
(350 mss), and the Hasan al-Sadr collection (589 mss). Al-Tikriti, 

Negligent Mnemocide 113 

27. The library's collection of published books appears to have been 
a total loss. In addition to the 6,000 Ottoman Turkish books, the 
flames also consumed three large collections of medical books 
boasting close to 4,000 volumes and 5,300 books concerning Ja'fari 
(Shi 'i | jurisprudence. For more details concerning the Awqaf Library, 
see al-Tikriti, 2003; Zayn al-Naqshbandi, "Report on the Central 
Awqaf Library," Iraq Crisis List, June 28, 2004, http://oi.chicago. 
edu/OI/IRAQ/zan.html, accessed December 2008. 

28. This facility was formerly known as the "Saddam House of 
Manuscripts" (Dar Saddam lil-Makhtutat). As a result of damages 
sustained in provincial collections during the 1991 uprising, and 
in accordance with longstanding Ministry of Culture efforts to 
centralize all holdings, several manuscript collections were absorbed 
into this main collection in the 1990s. Al-Tikriti, 2003. 

29. These trunks reportedly included around 500 trunks of Iraqi House 
ol Manuscripts manuscripts, some 200 trunk:, from other collections, 
and 83 trunks of rare published books. Some 3,000 manuscripts 
(mss) from the following collections were housed in the shelter along 
with the main collection: Iraqi Academy of Sciences (667 mss), 
Mosul Central Library (301 mss), University of Mosul Librar) ( i 11 
mss), University of Tikrit Library (40 mss), Kirkuk Central Library 
(40 mss), University of Mustansiriyya Library, and the University 
of Basra Library. Al-Tikriti, 2003. 

30. It also boasted an internet computer lab, printing press, lecture 
rooms, and offices for affiliated researchers. For more information, 
see al-Tikriti, 2003; Watenpaugh et al., "Opening the Doors." 

31. These manuscripts included 93 unpublished works by the Iraqi 
historian 'Abbas al-'Azawi and a Sek;uk-era work by the medieval 
Sufi figure, "Umar al-Suhrawardi. Roughly half of the al-'Azawi 
collection had been returned by May 2003. 

32. A handwritten catalogue of Academy manuscript holdings 
disappeared along with all of the manuscripts. In addition, although 
the entire collection had been copied, the copies were looted along 
with the originals. 

33. For further information, see al-Tikriti, 2003; Watenpaugh et al., 
"Opening the Doors." 

34. The manuscripts included a ninth century Qur'an, a twelfth century 
cop\ oi ALiqannit jl-Hariri, an Ibn Sina philosophy text, and a 
nineteenth century al-'Alusi manuscript concerning Baghdad. There 
were no microfilms or microfiche taken of this collection. The facility 
also held several research collections relevant to Iraqi history, 
including several thousand copies of Ottoman, British, French, and 

114 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

US documents. As many of the Ottoman originals were held by 
INLA, it is possible that their information is now lost. 

35. Such collections include the Qadiriyya Mosque (1,833 mss), the Deir 
al-Aba al-Krimliyin collection (120 mss), and the al-Hidaya I ibrary 
(500 mss). 

36. "The Iraqi Jewish Archive Preservation Report," October 2, 2003, 
posted in January 2004, 
JewishArchiveReport.htm, accessed December 2008. 


38. Judy Lash Balint, "Back to Babylon," Jerusalem Post, August 12, 
accessed December 2008. 

39. The Mosul Torah set off a heated discussion on the Iraq Crisis List 
in June 2008. One example includes the following posting: https:// 

40. The saga of this archive has also attracted a great deal of attention:, http://www.nytimes. 
com/2008/07/01/books/01hoov.html, accessed December 2008. 

41. Such collections included the al-Mufti (120 mss) and Salah al-Din 
University (402 mss) libraries in Arbil, the al-Awqaf (6,000 mss) and 
al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Khal (350 mss) libraries in Sulaymania, 
the Al-Jamal al-Din library (180 mss) in Suq al-Shuyukh, and an 
unknown cleric's private collection (300 mss) in Diwaniyya. Al- 
Tikriti, 2003. 

42. Such collections included the Basra Center for Gulf Studies and the 
Bash A'yan al-'Abbasiyya Collection (1,200 mss). 

43. Such collections included the Mosul Center for Turkish Studies, 
the Ninewa Governorate Artifacts Inspectorate Library (Maktabal 
Mufatashiyya Athar Ninawah), the Ninawah Governorate Awqaf 
Library, Deir Mar Behnam Collection, Deir Mar Matti Collection, 
Karakosh Library Collection, al-Jalili Madrasa Collection (400 mss), 
and the Dr. Mahmud al-Jalili Collection (60 mss). The two Christian 
collections were moved to Baghdad prior to the invasion, and their 
status is unknown, as with most of the other collections. 

44. Such collections included the Amir al-Mu'minin (3,000 mss), al- 
Hakim (1,600 mss), and Kashif al-Ghita libraries (3,000 mss). 

45. The most prominent collection is the Hussein Mosque's Dar al- 
Makhtutat (1,200 mss). 

46. The information for these two facilities was reported to me in a 2004 
conference by an Iraqi academic who may not wish to be named 
publicly. This same informant reported that all Dohuk, Erbil, and 
Sulaymania collections were in fine condition as of June 2004. 

Negligent Mnemocide 115 

accessed December 2008. 

48. Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon Pursuant to 
Human Rights Council Resolution, S-2/1, p. 26: http://www2.ohchr. 
accessed December 2008. 

49. For photographs, see Sinan Antoon, "Monumental Disrespect," 
Middle East Report, 228 (2003). 

50. Nada Shabout, "There is more to be mourned than Iraq's ancient 
treasures," Daily Star, April 18, 2008, 
arlicli ,asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&article_id=91145#, accessed 
December 2008. 

51. For a textured discussion of this phenomenon in Iraq, see Bernadette 
Buckley, "Mohamed is Absent. I am Performing: Contemporary 
Iraqi Art and the Destruction of Heritage," in Stone and Bajjaly, 
Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, pp. 283-306. 

52. Shankar Vedantam, "One Thing We Can't Build Alone in Iraq," 
Washington Post, October 29, 2007, p. A03, http://www. 
AR2007102801477.html, accessed December 2008. Vedantam 
applied the work oi sociologist Peter Bearman and political scientist 
Anirudh Krishna to the case oi Iraq, arguing thai social capital cannot 
be inculcated by externally driven reconstruction efforts alone. 


Policy in Motion: 

The Present and the Future 


Dirk Adriaensens 

Looting, Arrests and Murder: TheOccupationof Iraq Begins 

When considering the widespread campaign of assassination that 
has targeted so many of Iraq's professional middle class, it is 
essential to recognize that the killing spree of Iraqi academics 
began in April 2003, with the first wave of assassinations 
coinciding with the invasion of the country. 

Despite the chaos that followed the illegal US-led invasion of 
Iraq, the attitude of the invaders towards Iraq's education system 
and its academic community rapidly became clear. 

On April 11, 2003, a number of Iraqi scientists and university 
professors sent an SOS e-mail complaining that American 
occupation forces were threatening their lives. 2 The appeal stated 
that looting and robberies were taking place under the watchful 
eye of occupation soldiers. 

These soldiers, the e-mail added, were transporting mobs to 
the scientific institutions, such as Mosul University and different 
educational institutions, to destroy scientific research centers and 
confiscate all papers and documents to stop any Iraqi scientific 
renaissance before it had a chance to begin. 

The e-mail also noted that occupation forces had drawn up 
lists of the names, addresses and research areas of the Iraqi 
scientists to assist them in their harassment tasks in light of the 
chaos and anarchy that existed after the toppling of the Iraqi 
regime on April 9. 3 

120 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

One early target of such harassment was Dr. Huda Salih Mahdi 
Ammash, dubbed "Mrs. Anthrax," who was taken into custody 
by coalition forces on May 4, 2003. A US Central Command 
news release issued after her capture described Ammash as: "a 
Ba'ath Party Regional Command member and weapons of mass 
destruction scientist. She was No. 53 on the U.S. Central Command 
'Iraqi Top 55' list." But Andrew Dwinell, the co-publisher of 
South End Press, says United Nations weapons inspectors did not 
believe Ammash aided in the production of biological weapons or 
other weapons of mass destruction and that Ammash's detainment 
was politically motivated. 4 

Dr. Ammash, an environmental biologist, professor and dean 
at Baghdad University, received her PhD from the University of 
Missouri. She has earned international respect for her publications, 
particularly her documentation of the rise in cancers among Iraqi 
children and war veterans since the Gulf War. In Iraq Under 
Siege she writes: "Iraqi death rates have increased significantly, 
with cancer representing a significant cause of mortality, 
especially in the south and among children." 5 Dr. Ammash's 
other publications include: "Impact of Gulf War Pollution in the 
Spread of Infectious Diseases in Iraq" (Soli Al-Mondo, Rome, 
1999), and "Electromagnetic, Chemical, and Microbiological 
Pollution Resulting from War and Embargo, and Its Impact on 
the Environment and Health" (Journal of the [Iraqi] Academy 
of Science, 1997). 

Dr. Ammash was never charged with any crime and US 
authorities refused her legal access. Eventually they had to release 
her. A close Iraqi friend comments: 

She is without a job or any financial support. The occupation won't allow 
her to get any money from her accounts. She was very sick for a while 
because of the cruelty of the interrogations. The American troops during 
raiding Dr Ammash house took every single paper in her house. Even the 
computer and the trash and the bathroom tissue in the house, the CD's 
and all her books and journals. They are all in Democratic Washington DC. 
When they released her they never gave her back the things they took 
from her house. At that time, I visited her family next to her door. It was a 

Killing the Intellectual Class 

disaster, and believe me, it was all about the DU [depleted uranium] issue. 
Dr Ammash had her own Pathogenic and hematological lab. This is one 
reason she could conduct her advanced researches. 

Others were not so lucky. Dr. Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly 
was tortured to death after his arrest in April 2003; he died in 
American custody from a sudden blow to the back of his head 
caused by blunt trauma, possibly from a bar or a pistol. 6 His 
battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue and the cause 
of death was initially recorded as "brainstem compression." It 
was discovered that US doctors had made a 20cm incision in 
his skull. According to another Iraqi professor who knew Dr. 
Izmerly, "The occupation was desperate for one confession that 
Iraq's program of WMD was still active, but with all the torture 
they couldn't get that out of him. His family in London accused 
the Pentagon officially of killing him during interrogation based 
on false allegations." 7 

The Campaign of Assassination 

According to US officials, on February 26, 2004 it was reported 
that a senior Iraqi scientist who had been involved in Iraq's 
nuclear program was found murdered in Baghdad. It was 
the ninth assassination of Iraqi scientists in the previous four 
months, reported Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news 
service. 8 The article notes that the latest killing was that of Iraqi 
aeronautical scientist Muhyi Hussein. The official comment of 
the US afterwards was a typical example of disinformation, given 
the fact that the Iraqi academics had already highlighted that 
their lives were threatened by the US invaders: "Although the 
reason for the assassination campaign is unclear, U.S. officials 
believe the killings represent an effort to conceal the scope of 
Iraq's nuclear program." 

Whilst almost any academic in any scientific field could be 
accused of involvement in some sort of weapons program, it 
quickly became clear that "scientists" were not the only targets. 

122 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

On January 21, 2004, the LA Times reported on the killing of 
politics professor Abdul Latif al Mayah: 

Gunned down only 12 hours after advocating direct elections on an Arab 
television talk show, Abdul Latif Mayah was the fourth professor from 
Baghdad's Mustansiriya University to be killed in the last eight months, 
his death the latest in a series of academic slayings in post-Hussein Iraq. 
Salam Rais, one of Mayah's students, claimed, "His assassination is part 
of a plan in this country, targeting any intellectual in this country, any free 
voice. He is the martyr of the free world." 9 

Jeffrey Gettleman reported that hundreds of intellectuals 
and mid-level administrators had been assassinated since May 
2003 in a widening campaign against Iraq's professional class, 
according to Iraqi officials. "They are going after our brains," 
said Lt. Col. Jabbar Abu Natiha, head of the organized crime 
unit of the Baghdad police. "It is a big operation. Maybe even a 
movement." 10 

American and Iraqi officials say there is no tally of all the 
professionals assassinated. However, Lt. Akmad Mahmoud, of 
the Baghdad police, has claimed that there had been "hundreds" 
of professionals killed in Baghdad. Mr. Saadi, a Baghdad city 
council member who works closely with the police, estimated the 
number to be between 500 and 1,000." The Independent stated 
on December 7, 2006 that "more than 470 academics have been 
killed. Buildings have been burnt and looted in what appears to 
be a random spree of violence aimed at Iraqi academia." 12 As of 
January 15, 2009, the RRusselk Tribunal's list of murdered Iraqi 
academics contained 413 names. 13 The Iraqi minister of education 
announced that 296 members of education staff were killed in 
2005 alone. 14 On March 15, 2007, Minister of Higher Education 
Abduldhiyab al-Aujaili declared that since the 2003 US invasion 
more than 100 university professors have been abducted. He said 
the ministry has almost lost hope for the return of those who had 
been abducted and the violence targeting Iraqi universities has 
terrorized faculty members. "Houses of hundreds of professors 
have been stormed and hundreds of them have been arrested 
though later most of them were released," he observed. According 

Killing the Intellectual Class 123 

to al-Aujaili, the rising violence has forced "thousands" of Iraqi 
professors to flee the country. 15 Human Rights Watch estimates 
that 331 school teachers were slain in the first four months 
of 2006 and at least 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and 
250 kidnapped since the 2003 US invasion. 16 The International 
Medical Corps reports that populations of teachers in Baghdad 
have fallen by 80 percent and medical personnel seem to have 
left in disproportionate numbers. 17 "Up to 75 percent of Iraq's 
doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.- 
led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated," 
according to a Medact report of January 16, 2008. 18 Roughly 40 
percent of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled the country 
by the end of 2006; most are fleeing systematic persecution and 
have no desire to return. 19 At least 303 Iraqi and 30 non-Iraqi 
media professionals have died under US occupation. 20 

Hana Al Bayaty, coordinator of the Iraqi International Initiative 
on Refugees, 21 concludes that 

The modern Iraqi educated middle class, vital now and in the future to 
run the state, the economy, and build Iraqi culture, has been decimated. 
Following systematic assassinations, imprisonment, military raids and 
sieges, threats and discrimination, most of what remained of that class left 
the country. The absence of this middle class has resulted in the breakdown 
of all public services for the entirety of Iraqi society. 

Even beyond the loss of life and accumulated human knowledge 
that such loss represents, the effect of these killings on Iraq's 
academic community has been catastrophic, with thousands 
fleeing the country and those who remain frightened into silence. 
On April 30, 2004, the Christian Science Monitor noted that 
Dr. Saad Jawad still speaks out. However, like other university 
professors across Iraq, he is increasingly afraid that saying what he 
thinks - or saying anything political at all - could get him killed. 
"To tell the truth, at the time of Saddam Hussein, we used to speak 
to our students freely... Ministers, for example, were criticized 
all the time. But now, a lot of people are not willing to say these 
kinds of things because of fear." 22 Another academic, Sadoun 
Dulame, described this process of intimidation: ripping open an 

124 Cultural Cle 

envelope containing a small, hard object, Dulame discovered the 
unwanted gift Iraq's academics have learned to dread. "They sent 
me a bullet," he said, describing the letter he received in March 
2004. "They said in Arabic: 'You cost us just one bullet, no more, 
so shut your mouth'." 

On October 30, 2006, the following message arrived: 

I am sure you have heard about the assassination of Dr. Issam Al-Rawi. 
Dr. Al-Rawi was the head of the Iraqi University Professors Union. He 
helped unveiling all the crimes committed against his colleagues by pro- 
government militias including Badr and Jaish Al-Mahdi and other security 
gangs. His death is a great loss. He refused to leave, even though like the 
others he was threatened many times to leave Iraq. He felt that he was 
mostly needed to protect his colleagues to keep the Iraqi universities going 
on in this critical time of his beloved country. Dr. Al-Rawi got killed because 
he believed that one day things would get better in Iraq and he has worked 
hard to see that day coming. I guess his assassination concludes how far 
that day is!! 

Dr. Issam al-Rawi was a major source for the BRusselk Tribunal 
and the Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the 
Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) list of murdered Iraqi academics, and 
he was one of the first to bring notice to the dreadful situation of 
the Iraqi academics. His list was initially translated and handed 
over to the BRussells Tribunal by Dr. Souad Naji Al-Azzawi, a 
former Vice President of Mamoun University of Scientific Affairs; 
she testified in the culminating session of the World Tribunal 
on Iraq in Istanbul June 2005. 23 Shortly before being attacked, 
al-Rawi was interviewed on TV, urging Iraqis to leave aside the 
sectarian violence. He was attacked in Al-Dawoodi neighborhood, 
West Baghdad, where he lived, shortly after leaving his home for 
Baghdad University. Two other professors were with him; they 
were both wounded. 

In January 2005, Charles Crain remarked in USA Today that in 
a country with distinct political, ethnic and religious fault lines, the 
university killings seem to follow no pattern. The dead have been 
Shi'ites and Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs, and supporters of various 
political parties. "They have a common thing: they are Iraqis," 

Killing the Intellectual Class 125 

al-Rawi said. 24 While leaving his house on October 30, a white 
four wheel drive vehicle blocked al-Rawi's car, then shots were 
fired at him. The vehicle, a 2004 Land Cruiser, is almost always 
used by the high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Interior and 
this vehicle is the "trade mark" of the death squads backed by 
some high-ranking officers and officials inside the ministry. There 
were four people in the vehicle: the driver, two shooters and one 
passenger who provided protection to the shooters. The car escaped 
in front of a National Guards checkpoint near the Al-Mansour 
area. On October 19, the occupation forces and the "Iraqi" Special 
Police Forces had raided al-Rawi's office (the League of the Iraqi 
University Professors, which he founded). 25 Al-Rawi had issued a 
communique on October 28 condemning the raid and the damage 
to the offices: the doors were broken, the library was a mess; his 
office and that of his deputy were searched. 26 

Omar Al Hajj, a professor at the University of Technology in 
Baghdad has pointed out that "Death squads accused of killing 
Iraqi professionals and scientists are the same forces that invaded 
Iraq, looted its museums and stole its banks... They are also 
the same parties, which abduct businessmen and foreigners for 
high ransoms." 27 

On December 2, 2007, hundreds of university students and 
professors took to the streets in Amara protesting the abduction 
of a technical institute dean and urging the government to put 
an end to mounting attacks against Iraqi intellectuals. "Today's 
demonstration denounces attacks against the Iraqi intelligentsia, 
which security forces remain unable to halt...," a professor from 
Missan University, Dr. Bassim al-Rubaie, told the independent 
news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). He continued, "supported by 
foreign bodies, organized gangs from all over Iraq are seeking to 
empty Iraqi universities and institutes of professors. Other gangs 
aim at financial gains from the release of hostages." 28 

A Case Study: Baghdad's College of Dentistry 

The college of Dentistry at the University of Baghdad was 
established in 1953 as a department of the Medical College. In 

126 Cultural Cle 

1958 it became a separate College belonging to the University; 
it was in this year that the first group of new dentists was 
graduated. The Teaching Hospital of the College was founded 
in 1991, and the hospital possesses many laboratories, clinics 
and new centers. In all, today the college is composed of two 
buildings and contains roughly 400 dental units. The College also 
runs continuing education courses in all the fields of dentistry. 29 
Throughout the occupation, Baghdad University's College of 
Dentistry has continued to educate students, with more than 50 
currently pursuing their degree. 30 

The College started with four dental chairs and it slowly grew 
into a major college at the University by relying on new Iraqi 
teaching staff. The college's staff includes 305 teaching staff 
(30 professors, 51 assistant professors, 71 lecturers and 153 
assistant lecturers), 106 technicians and dental assistants, and 
190 employees. 

Iraq's healthcare system was once a showcase for the rest of 
the Middle East. Its dentists often studied in Britain or the US, 
and the country's dental schools boasted high standards. More 
than a decade of international sanctions, followed by years of 
occupation, have left healthcare in Iraq little better than that seen 
in developing countries. 

On December 20, 2004, Hassan Abd-Ali Dawood Al-Rubai, 
Dean of the College of Dentistry at Baghdad University, was 
assassinated while he was leaving the college with his wife. Under 
a year later, on November 15, 2005, Fakhri Al-Qaysi, a faculty 
member of the Dentistry College, was critically injured in an 
assassination attempt; he subsequently fled the country. 

Others followed. On April 24, 2007, a bomb hidden in a 
student's locker exploded at the Dentistry College as students 
were preparing to attend classes, killing at least one student and 
wounding several others. 31 Munther Murhej Radhi, Dean of 
Baghdad University's Dental College, was murdered in his home 
on January 23, 2008. 32 Ten days later on February 2, 2008, 
gunmen attacked a convoy of Abdul-Kareem al-Mohammedawi, 
Deputy Dean of the College, killing two guards and wounding 
two others in the Zayouna district of eastern Baghdad. 33 

Killing the Intellectual Class 127 

Days later a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Higher 
Education said US forces raided the Faculty of Dentistry at al- 
Mustansiriya University in central Baghdad. Taqi al-Musawi, the 
President of al-Mustansiriya University, confirmed the incident. 
"The forces broke the faculty gates and destroyed its laboratories. . . 
They did not arrest the guards but seized their weapons." He 
strongly denounced the incident, pointing out it was the second 
of its kind at his university in less than ten days. 34 

On February 17, 2008, Iraqi "security" forces broke into 
the College of Dentistry at Baghdad University. They arrested 
the former dean of the college Dr. Osama Al Mulla, Dr. Riyadh 
Uttman, and three college employees, taking them all to an 
unknown location. They also beat up one student. 3S Iraqi blogger 
Lubna commented on this incident: 

There's a systematic plan to empty Iraq silently from its brains. The game 
goes like this: THEY threaten the BRAIN.The BRAIN leaves Iraq. If the BRAIN 
refuses to leave, then THEY kill the BRAIN! And so many BRAINS had to 
leave Iraq because of the threats they've received. So they had to choose 
between their lives and staying in their country. The cultural structure of 
our society is beings slowly disrupted day by day, and that - in my opinion 
- is the greatest loss of my Iraq. 35 

An eye-witness of the raid recalls further: 

The army took 2 doctors and 3 guards, they placed them in the Humvees 
and no one knows where they are now... I reached the college immediately 
after they took the doctors... I asked around and reached the true (or what 
people believe is the true) story. Sunday morning between 10 and 11am a 
patrol of Humvees for the Iraqi Army or the national guards parked at the 
gate of the dentistry college and soldiers wearing uniforms entered the 
college and arrested (or I'd better say Kidnapped) 2 doctors. ..Dr. Osama 
Al-Mola (orthodontist, the chief of orthodontic department and former 
temporary dean) and Dr. Ryiadh Al-Kaisy (a pathologist and the chief of 
the pathology department) with three other post graduate students (some 
say 3 of the college guards) and no one knows where did they take them, 
at the afternoon they headed to Dr. Fakhri Alfatlaoy's clinic (orthodontist 
and former dean's assistant for the students affairs) and kidnapped him 

128 Cultural Cleans 

from his clinic because he wasn't in the college at the time they raided 
the college. 37 

An Iraqi citizen wrote to President Bush: 

Dear President Bush, 

The war on Iraq and the Iraqi people has caused untold misery to millions of 
Iraqis, worse than Hitler inflicted on Europe and the Jews. All of this planned 
holocaust will paint your administration and other nations that supposed 
to be free and democratic and being much worst than any Nazi. 

This morning, 2-17-2008, College of Dentistry, Baghdad University was 
raided by Military type persons in 8 Hummers and kidnapped 7 professors 
to destinations unknown, similarly as it was done about a year ago at the 
Ministry of Higher Education. 

Your war and your Surge have failed and is failing if such atrocities are 
allowed to take place. YOU opened a Pandora Box and unleashed the worst 
nightmarish terror of death and destruction on a nation and its people, your 
name will be linked forever with this modern day Holocaust. 

This to inform you and hope that you still have time to save your name 
and your country's regard in the whole world. 

Emad. 38 

On March 3, 2008, Amnesty International released the following 

Ryadh al-Qaysi and Fakhri 'Abd Fatlawi, professors at Baghdad University's 
Faculty of Dentistry, and four other Baghdad University staff members who 
were arrested on 17 February, have been released. However, one professor, 
Ussama al-Mulla, remains in the custody of the Iraqi security forces and is 
at risk of torture and ill-treatment. 

On 17 February, armed men wearing Iraqi security uniforms entered the 
Faculty of Dentistry. They went to the office of the Dean of the Faculty 
and threatened him at gunpoint, telling him they had arrest warrants 
for 10 university staff. The three professors were arrested, along with 
four other staff members. The staff members were originally taken to al- 
Salihiya police station in Baghdad. The whereabouts of Ussama al-Mulla 
are currently unconfirmed. 

Killing the Intellectual Class 129 

The arrest warrants were apparently issued by an official body, and 
related to the investigation into the murder of the previous Dean of the 
Dentistry Faculty. 

At the time of the arrests, a number of students who protested against 
the arrests were detained in a room within the faculty and beaten by the 
same security forces before being released. 

Such are the living conditions in Iraq. 

More than 80 faculty members from the University of Baghdad 
have been killed since the beginning of the invasion in 2003. 40 

Violence on Campus 

The exodus of academics has dramatically lowered educational 
standards. 41 However, the brain drain and assassination of 
academics are not the only reasons for the collapse of the 
educational system; educational institutions and students are 
themselves targeted. 

On December 11, 2006, a car bomb exploded in a parking 
lot of Al-Ma'amoon College in the Al-Iskan district of Baghdad, 
killing one person and injuring four. One student was killed and 
another six injured in a roadside bomb that exploded on the same 
morning in front of al-Mustansiriya University. 42 A little over a 
month later, on January 16, 2007, at least 65 students were killed 
and another 110 injured in a double attack at the university. 43 
Then, on January 29, 2007, an attack against a girls' school in 
Baghdad left five students dead and another 20 injured. 44 

Mohammed Abdul-Aziz, a statistician with Iraq's Ministry of 
Education, told Integrated Regional Information Networks (HUN, 
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' news 
and analysis source) that at least 110 children had been killed and 
95 injured at schools since 2005; 45 these numbers do not include 
children killed or injured in transit to and from school. 46 

On December 3, 2007, unknown gunmen opened fire on a 
mathematics teacher at the Ali al-Hadi preparatory school in 
al-Qebla district in western Basra, killing him in front of his 
students. 47 A month later in Mosul, on January 31, 2008, 

130 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

unknown gunmen kidnapped five university students. A Ninewa 
police source relayed "Unknown gunmen abducted five of Mosul 
University students in Ein al-Beidha district, south of Mosul... the 
students were getting back to their homes in al-Sharqat district, 
80 km south of Mosul." 48 Then, on April 6, 2008, gunmen 
kidnapped 42 university students near Mosul; they were freed 
later that day. 49 

The intimidation campaign against the institute of education 

An Educational System on the Verge of Collapse 

A former teacher from a high school in Amariya commented in 
October of 2006: 

Education in my area is collapsing... Children can't get to school because 
of road blocks. The parents of others have simply withdrawn them from 
the school because of the fear of kidnapping... If children have to travel 
by car, we are much less likely to see them. When I left, we had 50% 
attendance. We see parents when they come in to ask for the children to 
have a "vacation," and they admit they are too scared to let them come. 
Between September 8 and 28 two members of the staff were murdered. 
The staff was supposed to be 42. Now there are only 20. 50 

The violence unleashed since the start of the invasion has driven 
thousands of students away, with enrolment off by more than 
half at some universities in the 2007-08 academic year alone. 51 
Universities in other parts of the country are open, but have 
become deserted. 52 According to statistics from the Ministry of 
Education, only about 30 percent of Iraq's 3.5 million school-aged 
children were attending classes in early 2007, compared to 75 
percent in the previous school year. 53 The NGO Save the Children 
reported similar statistics in the spring of 2007: 818,000 primary 
school-aged children, representing 22 percent of Iraq's student 
population, were not attending school. 54 

A joint study by Iraq's Ministry of Education and the United 
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) found that of those who do 
not attend school, 74 percent are female. Aid agencies e 

Killing the Intellectual Class 131 

that thousands of Iraqi parents do not send their daughters to 
school for security and economic reasons and because of the 
general insecurity in the country itself. 55 Agencies add that schools 
and universities are likely to continue emptying for years to 
come if there is no let-up in current levels of violence and the 
displacement it causes. 

A UNICEF report on the state of education for Iraqi children 
concluded that: 56 

• Many of the 220,000 displaced children of primary school 
age had their education interrupted. 

• An estimated 760,000 children (17 percent) did not go to 
primary schools in 2006. 

• Only 28 percent of Iraq's 1 7-year-olds sat their final exams in 
summer, and only 40 percent of those sitting exams achieved 
a passing grade (in south and central Iraq). 

In 1982, UNESCO awarded Iraq a prize for eradicating 
illiteracy. 57 At the time, Iraq had one of highest rates of literacy 
for women - by 1987 approximately 75 percent of Iraqi women 
were literate. 58 In 2004, UNESCO estimated that the literacy rates 
for adults - after a year of Anglo-American occupation and twelve 
years of UN-sponsored sanctions - stood at 74 percent. Three 
years later, in June of 2007, Education International estimated 
that only 65 percent of adults were literate (54 percent of women 
and 74 percent of men). 59 

Actions to Protect Iraqi Intellectuals 

The first organized attempt to create awareness about these 
murders, was made by the International Coalition of Academics 
Against Occupation, which published the following appeal on 
July 25, 2004: 60 

Even after the "transfer of authority" the U.S. Government remains in de 
facto military occupation of Iraq. The idea that the escalation of violence 
can be put to an end by the "interim" government, while 140,000 U.S. 

132 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

troops remain in control of major Iraqi cities like Mosul and Baghdad, is 
far from the reality on the ground. 

Overlooked by the U.S. Press is the escalating assassination of Iraqi 
academics, intellectuals, and lecturers. More than 250 college professors 
since April 30, 2003, according to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, 
have been the targets of assassination. 

From September 2004 onwards, press reports about these assas- 
sinations appeared on a regular basis. Many of these can be read 
at the RRussells Tribunal website. 61 

The second attempt to bring focus to the destruction of Iraqi 
higher education came from the BRusselk Tribunal, which began 
its campaign in December 2005, in cooperation with CEOSI. 62 

The campaign aimed to break the silence, appealing to 
organizations which work to enforce or defend international 
humanitarian law and to put these crimes into the public domain. 
It also appealed to the special rapporteur on summary executions 
at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human 
Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva that an independent international 
investigation be launched immediately to probe these extrajudicial 
killings. 63 The response was overwhelming. To date, the petition 
has been signed by some 11,000 academics and intellectuals 
worldwide, among them four Nobel Laureates, who vowed to 
help create awareness and make a concerted effort to stop this 

The BRusselk Tribunal established a list of the assassinated 
academics in order for mandated human rights authorities to 
investigate the killings and find a way to protect Iraq's academic 
and cultural wealth. 65 Despite these attempts, to date nothing 
has been done and no case has been seriously investigated 
inside Iraq. 

Since the campaign started, the BRussells Tribunal has received 
many letters of support as well as comments and useful information 
from inside Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqi academics from inside the 
country and/or recently exiled have signed the petition, despite 
the danger this could bring to them. 

One professor wrote: 66 

:ellectual Class 133 

In Iraq, everybody knows that the Badr Brigade, the armed militias of Islamic 
Revolution in Iraq are among the assassins of the academics in Iraq. Those 
armed forces turned into national guards of the Interior Ministry, so they 
have a license to kill now! I The petition idea is very good, but the response 
from the Iraqi academics will not be so great since the real criminals are still 
free to kill any of us under the blessing of occupation. Killing the educators 
and the academics would make it easier for the illiterate religious fanatics 
to govern uneducated people, terrified for their lives. 

Another professor wrote: 

We, as University lecturers, are going through exceptional conditions in 
which any one of us may get killed intentionally or otherwise. It became 
normal that we greet one another when we meet, we wish each other 
safety and thank Cod to be still alive. Messages of threats to kill became 
something very usual. I myself got threatened after being elected Head 
of the Department of (omitted for safety reasons) at the college and was 
consequently obliged to move to another college. 

Below are some facts concerning Iraqi academics: 

1. Murdering involves University and other academic institutes as well, 
teachers of different ages, specializations, and political and religious 

2. Assassins are professional people, and we never heard till now that one 
murderer got arrested. 

3. Murdering takes place everywhere: on the road, at work, and home as 

4. Nobody has taken responsibility, and reasons have not been clarified. 

5. Murdering is carried out by fire-shooting, some got killed with 3 and 
others 30 bullets. 

6. The number of those killed in the University of Baghdad alone has 
exceeded 80 according to formal reports. 

7. People are afraid to ask for details about those crimes. 

8. Many of the killed are friends, one is Prof. Sabri Al-Bayati, a Prof, on 
Arts was killed on 13/6/2003 near the college. Another is Prof. Dr. 
Sabaah Mahmood Dean of the college Al-Mustansiriya University who 
was killed near the college 2003. Prof. Dr. Abdullateef al Mayaahi was 
killed with more than 30 bullets. He occupied the post of Director of 

134 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

the centre of Arab studies in the Mustansiriya University. I suggest 
that you correspond with the presidents of Universities to get data 
and details of these killings from the presidents of the universities of 
Baghdad, Mustansiriya, Basrah, Kufa, Mosul.... 
9. Many famous professors, doctors have left Iraq to save their lives. 

Here's a message from an Iraqi professor, who has been able to 
escape the Iraqi Armageddon: 

I am a female Iraqi academic forced to leave Iraq on 2 August 2006. On 17 
July 2006 I was kidnapped, tortured and threatened to be killed with my 
daughter if didn't leave Iraq within a few days. I have a PhD in [omitted] 
and was a member of staff at [omitted], University of Technology in 
Baghdad, Iraq. 

I had no time to contact the Iraqi Academic Association to report the 
incident because I hid when I received the threat until I fled Iraq. 

Thank you for your effort to document the assassinations and threats 
to Iraqi academics. The real situation in Iraq is much worse than anything 
mentioned in the news or any report. Not all the incidents were documented 
in your website. Personally, I knew many academics at University of 
Technology were threatened and forced to flee Iraq after the occupation 
and for one reason or another they might not have the time to report the 
threats to the Iraqi Academic Association. Among them Head of Control 
and Systems Eng. Dept, Prof Dr Ali Althamir, Spectrum specialist at Applied 
Sciences Dept., Dr Mohammad Radhi, a member of staff at Building and 
Construction Dept., Dr Chanim Abdul Rahman and many others. 

One particular reaction was especially important. It shows that 
Iraqi academics indeed want to oppose this situation, but are 
obstructed by the Quisling-government from doing so. 

OK I will give you some names. In fact the list is so big I will do a scan 
and send it to you as I wish we can do something about that, and I am 
ready to work with you on that, but please keep my name secret for 
security reasons. 

Give me a couple of days. Then you'll receive a list of more than 100 
Iraqi professors who were murdered. As well as I have my own stories 
about that. 

Killing the Intellectual Class 135 

The head of our dept. was killed a month ago. I arranged for a rally in 
the university and I invited all the media. I wrote a press release, I tried 
to make it official, I mean not only among the students. And you know 
what? Many important people in the university and the government told 
me we should not show the weakness of our government. I became very 
disappointed. I didn't know how to work on that and if no one helps you 
it will be useless. 

I hope we can raise our voice this time. 

In these circumstances, solidarity campaigns are essential to 
create awareness about the atrocities that are taking place and 
support the academic community in Iraq in their efforts to raise 
their voice against the killings of their educators, and safeguard 
them from further decimation. 

The number of assassinations has not decreased since the 
BRusselk Tribunal started its campaign. According to its sources, 
the contrary is true. Since the end of 2005 hundreds of academics 
have been assassinated and an end to the killings is not on the 
horizon. The BRusselk Tribunal continues receiving e-mails on 
extrajudicial killings. Before this book went to press, the latest 
was from Dr. Saad Jawad on January 15, 2009: 

My name is Prof. Saad N. Jawad, a political scientist from Baghdad 
University. I am now a fellow at LSE [London School of Economics], [in] 
London. While going through the updated list of the killed Iraqi academics 
published by your esteemed organisation, I found that the names of the 
following colleagues, god rest their souls in peace, are missing from it. 
May I ask you to kindly include them in the coming updated list? Thank 
you very much. 

1. Prof. Khalil Ismail al-Hadithi, Prof, of Political Science, College of 
Political Science, University of Baghdad, killed in Amman, Jordan, 23 
April 2006. 

2. Prof. Husain Ali al-Jumaily, Prof, of Political Science, College of Political 
Science, University of Baghdad, killed in Baghdad 16 July 2006. 

3. Mr. Khalid Hassan Mahdi Nasrullah, administrative Secretary of the 
College of Political Science, University of Baghdad, kidnapped and killed 
after four days of kidnapping and torture, 27 March 2007. 

136 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

The Occupation is Responsible 

Iraqi professors direct most of their ire towards the failed 
Anglo-American occupation. Dr. Bakaa, former president of 
al-Mustansiriya University (2003-04), commented that he had 
received almost no funding for research since the occupation. 
Buildings destroyed during the First Gulf War were rebuilt in two 
months' time under the Hussein regime, yet the Americans have 
repaired nothing. When professors are threatened or killed, there 
is never any investigation. 67 

Dr. Saad Jawad adds that "Iraqi professors are being killed by 
everyone, and nobody has told us if any killers have been caught. 
Nothing has been done. One U.S. soldier was kidnapped and 
Baghdad is on full alert, but the killing of an Iraqi professor? 
Nothing happens." 68 

In fact, neither the Iraqi "government," nor the occupation 
forces can guarantee security, education, healthcare, electricity or 
any other basic need. To the contrary: there are clear indications 
that the US and UK can be held responsible for many of the 
"terrorist" and death-squad activities (this is further explored 
later in this chapter). 

Were the assassinated academics Ba'athists? The answer is 
that they were educators. The term "de-Ba'athification" was 
a war slogan used by the US and its allies in a bid to destroy 
the Iraqi national state 69 - its administrative apparatus, 70 public 
services, 71 properties, 72 archives, 73 registries of public and private 
ownership, 74 natural resources, 75 revenues 76 and reserves 77 (leading 
Iraq to the brink of economic collapse 78 and abject poverty 79 ) as 
well as its economic foundations, 80 laws 81 and the judicial system, 82 
museums, 83 libraries, 84 army and police, 85 health 86 and education 87 
systems, art, 88 print media, 89 radio 90 and television. 91 

This destruction is not a consequence of war but rather a 
studied plan prepared before the invasion. 92 Strictly speaking, and 
according to definitions under international law, this destruction 
is genocidal in nature. 93 

The systemic liquidation of Iraqi academics has nothing to do 
with them being Ba'athist or not. It follows from the imperialist 

Killing the Intellectual Class 137 

character of the invasion of Iraq, and the attempt to render null 
and void Iraqi sovereignty. 94 The US imperial project, based on 
privatization 95 and ruin, 96 indeed outright looting, 97 plunder 98 
and confiscation, 99 and in direct violation 100 of international law, 
has created the objective and political conditions for the rise of 
puppet-government-controlled death squads 101 and US-drafted 
mercenary security contractors 102 that kill and terrorize Iraqi 
academics and others with impunity. 103 The various actors that 
make up these death squads help to destroy the Republic of Iraq, 
kill and expel its people, annihilate its middle class, all this with 
the active (or tacit) support of the occupation authorities, in a 
campaign of counterinsurgency that resembles the many "dirty 
wars" of the US during the past 50 years. It is the largest heist in 
history, and it is backed with murderous force. 104 

Instead of bringing stability to Iraq, the Anglo-American 
occupation is bringing chaos and terror, inciting civil war and 
sectarian strife, in order to defeat the National Popular Resistance 
and to break the aspirations of the Iraqi people to live in a 
sovereign state and decide their own future. The real division in 
Iraq 105 is between those who go along with the US project and 
those who oppose it. 106 

Urgent Actions are Needed to Save Iraq's Academics 

Organizations that work to enforce or defend international 
humanitarian law should put these crimes high on their agendas. 
In concrete terms, the UN human rights system, including the 
recently streamlined Human Rights Council, the International 
Committee of the Red Cross, responsible for ensuring general 
respect for the laws of war, and the conference of the High 
Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, should ensure 
that their mandates are fulfilled, lest these mandates be deemed 
worthless by the international public. International human rights 
organizations can play a role in bringing pressure to bear on inter- 
governmental organs to act. Whereas violators regard international 
humanitarian and human rights law as a luxury easily dispensed 

138 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

with, in reality, for the sake of humanity, it must be asserted as 
the bare minimum upon which we can claim civilization. 

An independent international investigation should be 
launched immediately to probe these extrajudicial killings. This 
investigation should be carried out by the UN Special Rapporteur 
on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions under the 
auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, establishing not only 
the facts and circumstances of those killed but also the responsi- 
bility of perpetrators, and others accountable. The fact that the 
number of assassinated academics in Iraq is so high should not be 
taken as an excuse for inaction, nor the budgetary restrictions of 
the UN human rights system. It is not for the international public 
to suggest to the UN human rights system how to best fulfill its 
mandate. We should demand, however, that it fulfills it. 107 

Suggested further possible actions for the academic community 

• Helping end the silence that surrounds the ongoing crime 
of the assassination of Iraqi academics and the destruction 
of Iraq's educational infrastructure, and support Iraqi 
academics' right and hope to live in an independent, 
democratic Iraq, free of foreign occupation and hegemony. 
Academic institutions and organizations can declare 
solidarity with their Iraqi colleagues. An example of such 
an action is the Declaration of the General Assembly of 
the Conference of Spanish University Rectors (CRUE) of 
November 14, 2006. 108 

• Academics worldwide can forge links between their 
universities and Iraqi educators, both in exile and in Iraq. 
This can take the form of internet exchanges, direct faculty 
and student exchanges, joint research projects, and general 
support, direct (research grants, material assistance) and 
indirect (public campaigns to highlight the plight of Iraqi 
academics and students). Student organizations can link 
with Iraqi student organizations in much the same way. 

• Universities can set up and grant scholarships to Iraqi 
exiled lecturers. Organizations that are active in facilitating 

scholarships for Iraqi academics include the Council for 
Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) 109 and the Iraq Scholar 
Rescue Project. 110 

Educators can mobilize colleagues and concerned citizens 
to take up the cause of the salvation of Iraq's intellectual 
wealth, by organizing seminars, teach-ins and forums on 
the plight of Iraq's academics, like the Madrid International 
Seminar on the Assassination of Iraqi Academics and 
Health Professionals that was held between April 22 and 
23,2006. m 

1. Thanks to the BRusselk Tribunal members Dr. Ian Douglas, Abdul 
Ilah and Hana Al Bayaty, for their valuable contribution to the 
information in this chapter and their relentless efforts to start and 
guide our campaign on the assassinations of Iraqi academics. 

2. "US Threatens Iraqi Scientists," Islam Online, April 12, 2003, 
shtml, accessed December 2008. 

3. See "Sensing Foul Play, Iraqis Take Arms to Stop Looting," Islam 
Online, April 11, 2003, 
news/2003-04/1 l/articlel3.shtml, accessed December 2008, and 
"Iraqi Regime Collapses, Baghdad Under U.S. Control," Islam 
Online, April 9, 2003, 
News/2003-04/09/article09.shtml, accessed December 2008. 

4. Nate Carlisle, "Amash Should be Freed, publisher says," Columbia 
Daily Tribune, May 15, 2003, 
f-news/912256/posts, accessed December 2008. 

5. Dirk Adriaensens, "The Real Story Behind the Arrest of Dr. Huda 
Saleh Mehdi Amash," 
msg02406.html, accessed December 2008. 

6. Alissa J. Rubin, "Suspicion Surrounds Death of Iraqi Scientist in 
US Custody," Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2004, http://www., accessed December 

7. An e-mail sent to the BRussells Tribunal. 

8. "9 Iraqi Scientists Murdered in Last 4 Months: US Believes Killings 
Effort to Conceal Scope of Iraq's Nukes Program," WorldNetDaily, 
February 26, 2004, 
asp?ARTICLE_ID=37299, accessed December 2008. 

140 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

9. Nicolas Riccardi, "Another Voice of Academia is Silenced in Iraq," 
Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2004, http://www.brusselstribunal. 
org/academicsArticles.htm#another, accessed December 2008. 

10. Jeffrey Gettleman, "Assassinations Tear into Iraq's Educated 
Class," New York Times, Februar) 7, 2004, http://www.nytimes. 
accessed December 2008. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Lucy Hodges, "Iraq's Universities are in Meltdown," Independent, 
December 7, 2006, 
higher/iraqs-universities-are-in-meltdown-4273 16.html, accessed 
December 2008. 

13. "List of Killed, Threatened or Kidnapped Iraqi Academics," 
BRusselh Tribunal, continuously updated,, accessed December 2008. 

14. Katherine Zoepf, "Iraqi Academics are Marked for Death, Human- 
Rights Groups Say," Cbro ideofH r Tel • urn, July 7, 2006 
(Vol. 52, No. 44),, 
accessed December 2008. 

15. Saad Albazzaz, " I 96 Professors Killed, More Than 100 Kidnapped 
Since US Invasion," Azzaman, Editorial, March 15, 2007, http://\2007-03-15\ 
kurdl.htm, accessed December 2008. 

16. See Michael E. O'Hanlon and Jason H. Campbell, "Iraq Index: 
Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam 
Iraq," Brookings Institution, October 1, 2007, http://www3. pdf, accessed December 
2008, and Jeremy Laurance, "Medics Beg for Help as Iraqis 
Die Needlessly," Independent, October 20, 2006, http://www. 
independent. co. uk/news/world/middle-east/medics-beg-for-help- 
as-iraqis-die-needlessly-420850.html, accessed December 2008. 

17. Elizabeth Ferris, "Statement," Brookings-Bern Project on Internal 
Displacement, February 14, 2007, 
rwb.nsf/db900SID/AMMF-727BUF, accessed December 2008. 

18. Luke Baker, "Iraq Healthcare in Disarray, report says," Reuters, 
January 16, 2008, 
idUSL16828588, accessed December 2008. 

19. Carolyn Lochhead, "Iraq Refugee Crisis Exploding: 40% of Middle 
Class Believed to Have Fled Crumbling Nation," San Trancisco 
Chronicle, January 16, 2008, 
article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/16/MNG2MNJBISl.DTL, accessed 
December 2008. 

Killing the Intellectual Class 141 

20. "Assassinated Media Professionals," BRussells Tribunal, 
continuously updated, 
istKilled.htm, accessed December 2008. 

21. See "Iraqi Oil Revenues for Iraqi Refugees," 
and Hana Al-Bayaty, "Oil for Iraqi Citizens," Al-Ahram Sleekly, 
No. 879,, accessed 
December 2008. 

22. Annia Ciezadlo, "Death to Those Who Dare to Speak Out," 
Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2004, http://www.csmonitor. 
com/2004/0430/pl ls01-woiq.html, accessed December 2008. 

23. Former professor of environmental engineering at Baghdad 
University, recipient of the 2003 Nuclear-Free Future Award for 
her work on environmental contamination after the Gulf War in 
Iraq and a member of the BRussclls Tribunal Committee. Read her 
testimony in: World Tribunal on Iraq: Making the Case Against 
War. See and Dr. 
Souad N. Al-Azzawi, "Deterioration of Iraqi Women's Rights 
and Living Conditions under Occupation," RRiissells Tribunal, 
December 19, 2007, 
enUnderOccupation.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

24. Charles Crain, "Approximately 300 Academics Have Been Killed," 
USA Today, January 17, 2005, http://ww w 
world/iraq/2005-01-16-academics-assassinations_x.htm, accessed 
December 2008. 

25. Dr. Issam K. Arrawi, "Breaking into AUL Headquarters," October 
28, 2006, http://www.brusselstribunal.Org/AlRawi.htm#AUL, 
accessed December 2008. 

26. "Note on the Assassination of Dr. Issam Al-Rawi," BRusselk 
Tribunal, October 30, 2006, 
AlRawi.htm, accessed December 2008. 

27. Basil Adas, "Dentist Claims Mossad Is Behind Scientist Killings," 
Gulf News, July 29, 2006, http://archive.gulfnews.eom/articles/O 
6/07/29/10055723.html, accessed December 2008. 

28. "Hundreds Protest Attacks on Intellectuals in Missan," http://, accessed December 2008. 

29. This information was accessed at 
work/about.html, this site is no longer active. 

30. Joanne Bladd, "Business as Usual," Arabian Business, April 2, 
accessed December 2008. 

31. "Security Developments in Iraq," Iraq Updates, April 24, 2007,, accessed 
December 2008. 

142 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

32. "Dental College Dean Killed in Baghdad," January 25, 2008,, accessed 
December 2008. 

33. "Factbox: Security developments in Iraq," Reuters, February 2, 2008,, 
accessed December 2008. 

34. "US Forces Deny Raiding Dentistry College," Iraq Updates, 
February 10, 2008, 
article/27146, accessed December 2008. 

35. Lubna, "Brains as Targets," The Untold Story: Blog, February 24, 
accessed December 2008. 

36. "Iraq: The Exodus of Academics has Lowered Educational 
Standards," IRIN, January 7, 2007, 
Report.aspx?ReportId=62983, accessed December 2008. 

37. Dr. Mohammed, "Dentistry College Ordeal," Last of Iraqis: 
A Stranger in His Own Country: Blog, February 18, 2008, http://, 
accessed December 2008. 

38. E-mail correspondence to author. 

39. "Iraq: Further Information on Fear of Torture or Ill-Treatment, " 
Amnesty International, March 3, 2008, 
accessed December 2008. 

40. Joshua Partlow, "At Least 15 Iraqis Die as Building Explodes: 
Attack Highlights Problems in North/ Washington Post, January 
24, 2008, 
article/2008/01/23/AR2008012303402.html, accessed December 
2008. The author of the preceding commented: "Iraqi government 
and police as well as U.S. troops have practically been doing 
nothing to stop the murderous campaign against these intellectuals. 
Most of the killings are not investigated and university officials, 
refusing to be named, say they are not aware of any of the alleged 
killers being brought to justice." 

41. "Iraq: The Exodus of Academics Has Lowered Educ 
Standards," IRIN, January 7, 2007, 
Report. aspx?Reportld=62983, accessed December 2008. 

42. "Human Rights Report: 1 November - 31 December 2006," 
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, http://www.uniraq. 
EN.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

43. Kim Sengupta, "Double Bombing Kills 65 Students at Iraqi 
University," Independent, January 17, 2007, http://www. 

Killing the Intellectual Class 143 
65-students-at-iraqi-university-432440.html, accessed December 

44. "Iraq: Widespread Condemnation of Fatal Attack on Girls' 
School," IRIN, January 29, 2007, 
aspx?ReportId=66296, accessed December 2008. 

45. Ibid. 

46. "Iraq: Children's Education Gravely Affected by Conflict," 
IRIN, March 14, 2007, 
aspx?ReportId=70697, accessed December 2008. 

47. "Teacher Killed in Front of his Students in Basra," Iraq Updates, 
December 4, 2007, 
article/24667, accessed December 2008. 

48. "Gunmen Abducts Five University Students in Mosul," Iraq 
Updates, February 1, 2008, 
articles.php/article/26818, accessed December 2008. 

49. Maquiladora, "Gunmen Kidnap S2 Iraqi Students," Free Republic, 
April 6, 2008, 
posts, accessed December 2008. 

50. Peter Beaumont, "Iraq's Universities and Schools Near Collapse 
as Teachers and Pupils Flee," Guardian, October 5, 2006, http:// 
tionaleducationnews, accessed December 2008. 

51. "Bombing Latest Blow to Colleges," Washington Times, 
January 18, 2007, 
jan/18/20070118-101338-1968r/, accessed December 2008. 

52. Sandy English, "Violence Escalates Against Students and Teachers 
in Iraq," World Socialist Website, January 31, 2007, http://www. 11 / ;tud-j 1 1 .shtml, accessed December 

53. "Iraqi Academics at Grave Risk," Education International, 
January 1, 2007, 
6&theme=statusofteachers, accessed December 2008. 

54. "Iraq: Children's Education Gravely Affected by Conflict," 

55. Ibid. 

56. "Little Respite for Iraq's Children in 2007," UNICEF, December 21, 
2007,, accessed 
December 2008. 

57. English, "Violence Escalates Against Students and Teachers in 

144 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

58. Weam Namou, "Operation Iraqi Freedom Enslaved Iraqi Women," 
Global Politician, April 2, 2008, http://www.globalpolitician. 
com/24070-iraq, accessed December 2008. 

59. The current percentage of literate women has risen from the 
UNESCO estimate of 2000 (25 percent), http://www.globalpo- See "Barometer of Human & Trade 
Union Rights in Education: Iraq," Education International, June 
19, 2007, 
php?country=iraq, accessed December 2008. 

60. International Coalition of Academics Against Occupation, The 
Assassination of Iraqi Intellectuals, 
pipermail/iraqcrisis/2004-July/000783.html, this site is no longer 

6 I . "List of Articles," BRussells Tribunal, continuously updated, I rap://, accessed 
December 2008. 

62. See the collection at 
htm and CEOSI's website 
represion_3-01-06.html, both accessed December 2008. 

63. "Urgent Appeal to Save Iraq's Academics," BRussells Tribunal,, accessed 
December 2008. 

64. "Principal Endorsers of the Campaign," BRussclk Tribunal, http://, accessed 
December 2008. 

65. "List of Killed, Threatened or Kidnapped Iraqi Academics," 
BRnssclls Tribunal. 

66. These were e-mails sent to the ¥>Russelh Tribunal. 

67. Christina Asquith, "Murder, Fear Follow Iraqi Professors On 
Campus," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, November 21, 
6690.shtml, accessed December 2008. 

68. Ibid. 

69. Abdul-Ilah Al-Bayaty, "Why the US Will Lose," Al Ahram Weekly, 
2-November 9, 2005, 
htm, accessed December 2008. 

70. "Testimony of Mohamed AlRahoo," V, trldl but <l onlraq, June 
25, 2005, transcript on BRussells Tribunal website, http://www., accessed December 2008. 

71. Dan Murphy, "Iraqis Thirst for Water and Power," Christian 
Science Monitor, August 11, 2005, http://www.csmonitor. 
com/2005/08 Il/p01s03-woiq.html, accessed December 2008. 

Killing the Intellectual Cla 

72. "Halliburton Loses $18.6 Million Worth of Government Property 
in Iraq," Halliburton Watch, July 27, 2004, http://www.hallibur-, accessed December 

73. "The Destruction of Iraq's National Library and Archives," The 
Memory Hole, April 2003, 
history/iraq-natl-library.htm, accessed December 2008. 

74. Saad Kiryakos, "Destroying Iraq's Public Records," Global 
Outlook, No. 5, Summer-Fall 2003, http://www.globalresearch. 
ca/articles/KIR307A.html, accessed December 2008. 

75. "New UN Resolution Must Turn Over US Control of Iraq's 
Oil Revenues to Iraqis," Iraq Revenue Watch, May 10, 2004, 
0510resolution.htm, accessed December 2008. 

76. Emad Mekay, "Is Iraq Becoming the World's Biggest Cash Cow?" 
Inter Press Service, March 18, 2005, http://www.globalpolicy. 
org/security/issues/iraq/contract/2005/03 1 8cow.htm, accessed 
December 2008. 

77. "Bush Administration Not Recovering Stolen Money in Iraq," 
Halliburton Watch, January 17, 2006, http://www.halliburton-, accessed December 2008. 

78. Eric Le Boucher, "The Other Failure in Iraq: the Economy," 
he Monde, February 18, 2006, 
2006/022006H.shtml, accessed December 2008. 

79. James Cogan, "IMF Measures Wreak Havoc on Iraqi People," 
World Socialist Web Site, February 21, 2006, http://www.wsws. 
org/articles/2006/feb2006/iraq-f21.shtml, accessed December 

80. Daphne Eviatar, "Free Market Iraq? Not So Fast," New York Times, 
January 10, 2004, http://www.globai I oli oi . < urit\/issues/iraq/ 
attack/law/2004/0112freemarket.htm, accessed December 2008. 

81. "Iraqis Angered as Bremer Says He Has Final Say on Iraq's Basic 
Law," Agence France Presse, February 17, 2004, http://www., accessed December 

82. "The New Iraq," NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, May 13, 2003, 
13.html, accessed December 2008. 

83. Patrick Martin, "The Sacking of Iraq's Museums: US Wages War 
Against Culture and History," World Socialist Web Site, April 
16, 2003, 
shtml, accessed December 2008. 

146 Cultural Cle 

84. "Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi 
accessed December 2008. 

85. "Iraqi Security Bodies, Army Dissolved: US Move to Consolidate 
Control," Dawn, May 23, 2003, 
topi. htm, accessed December 2008. 

86. Dahr Jamail, "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation," World 
Tribunal on Iraq, June 21, 2005, 
DahrReport.htm, accessed December 2008. 

87. Ahmed Mukhtar, "Where Is This Going?" Al Abram "Weekly, 
June 10-16, 2004,, 
accessed December 2008. 

88. "Iraqi Art Destroyed in Post-War Looting," Non-Profit News 
and Information Service, 
php?sid=4525, accessed December 2008. 

89. Josh White and Bradley Graham, "Military Says it Paid Iraq 
Papers for News," Washington Post, December 3, 2005, http:// 
AR2005120201454.html, accessed December 2008. 

90. Mika Makelainen, "Shock and Awe on the Air: US Steps Up 
Propaganda War," April 5, 2003, 
clandestine_information_ iraq.dx, accessed December 2008. 

91. "CPJ Sends Letter to Rumsfeld About US Bombing of Iraqi TV: 
Group continues to monitor reports of missing and detained 
journalists," International Freedom of Expression eXchange, March 
accessed December 2008. 

92. Greg Muttitt, "Crude Designs: The Rip Off of Iraq's Oil Wealth," 
Global Policy Forum, November 2005, http://www.globalpolicy. 
org/security/oil/2005/crudedesigns.htm, accessed December 

93. "We're Committing Genocide in Iraq," Al Jazeera, http://www. 
ID=6634, link no longer valid, and Dr. Ian Douglas, "US Genocide 
in Iraq," Power Foundation, April-June 2007, http://www.brussel-, accessed December 

94. See "Declaration of the Jury of Conscience," "World Tribunal on 
Iraq, June 27, 2005, 
JuryFinalJuly26.pdf, accessed December 2008, and Joe Hendren, 
"The Hijacking of a Nation," Foreign Control "Watchdog, August 

Killing the Intellectual Class 147 

2003,, accessed 
December 2008. 

95. Antonia Juhasz, "Bush's Other Iraq Invasion," AlterNet, August 
22, 2005,, accessed 
December 2008. 

96. "In Less Than Three Years," Assyrian International News Agency, 
April 2, 2006,, 
accessed December 2008. 

97. Ghali Hassan, "The Endless Looting of Iraq," Online Journal, 
December 14, 2005, 
publish/article_332.shtml, accessed December 2008. 

98. Mohsen Khalil, "Bush and Blair Violations to the International 
Law in the Economic Field," February 4, 2006, http://www.brus-, accessed December 2008. 

99. "Confiscating and Vesting Certain Iraqi Property," Office of 
Policy Coordination and International Relations, Executive Order 
13290, March 20, 2003, 
cfm?id=EO_13290_, accessed December 2008. 

100. Naomi Klein, "Bring Halliburton Home," The Nation, November 
6, 2003,, accessed 
December 2008. 

101. Max Fuller, "Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death 
Squads in Occupied Iraq," Global Research, November 10, 2005, 
http://www.glolxiln rch i/ind * |>l.p?context=viewArticle&co 
de=FUL20051110&articleId=1230, accessed December 2008. 

102. Louis Nevaer, "Here Comes the Death Squad Veterans," AlterNet, 
June 16, 2004,, accessed 
December 2008. 

103. Dahr Jamail, "US Coalition Forces Above the Law, According 
to the CPA," Information Clearing House, May 1, 2004, http://, accessed 
December 2008. 

104. A.K. Gupta, "The Great Iraq Heist," ZMagazine, January 2004, Article/ 1 3790, accessed December 

105. Hana Al-Bayaty, "The Primary Divide," Al Ahram Weekly, August 
18-24, 2005,, 
accessed December 2008. 

106. Abdul Illah and Hana Al Bayaty, "The Politics of Sovereignty," 
Al Ahram Weekly, June 2-8, 2005, 
eg/2005/745/re2.htm, accessed December 2008. 

148 Cultural Clean; 

107. It is interesting to note that since 2004 there is no longer a Special 
Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq. http://www. 
i mhchr ch/html/menu2/7/b/execut/exe_mand.htm. 

108. "Declaration Regarding the Widespread Violence in Iraq and the 
Killing of University Professors," http://www.brusselstribunal. 
org/pdf/CRUE.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

109. Council for Assisting Refugee Academics website, http://www., accessed December 2008. 

110. Scholar Rescue Fund: Iraq Scholar Rescue Project website,, accessed 
December 2008. 

111. "US Policy in Iraq: A War Launched to Erase both the Culture 
and Future of the Iraqi People," 



Max Fuller and Dirk Adriacnscns 

The Purge of Iraqi Academics 

Emergence of the Purge 

Among the many tragedies that have befallen Iraqi society as a 
consequence of the Anglo-American led invasion of April 2003, the 
physical elimination of hundreds or thousands of Iraqi academics 
has been one of the most heinous and most frequently overlooked. 
This outcome has every appearance of being a systematic and 
ruthless campaign of targeted assassination. It has drawn frequent 
and wide-ranging speculation within mainstream discourse. 
However, it has also been subjected to far less critical analysis than 
it has needed. Nor have any of the concrete steps that are urgently 
needed to protect Iraqi intellectuals been taken. At the same 
time, the edges of the phenomenon have remained substantially 
blurred, with no categorical definitions of exactly who has been 
killed, how or even when. To date, the BRussells Tribunal has 
campaigned most actively to raise these killings as an issue. The 
Tribunal has also kept one of the most comprehensive databases 
recording the killings of Iraqi university teachers and administra- 
tors. 1 The earliest recorded instance of targeted assassination in 
that database is of Falah Hussein, Assistant Dean at Mustansariya 
University, in May 2003, but the names of two others precede 
his chronologically without attributing a cause of death. Dozens 
more killings are listed without confirmed dates. 

Although some initial speculation suggested that the killings 
targeted scientists who had been involved in illicit weapons 

150 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

programs, it quickly became clear that the victims included many 
who could not have been. 2 By May 2004 the Iraqi academic 
community had come to recognize itself as a targeted group, 3 
and by September, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), 
established by Issam al-Rawi in June 2003, had recorded the 
deaths of some 250 academics that had been killed since the 
occupation began. 4 

In fact, such deaths were part of a wave of killings of leading 
professionals that the news channel Al Jazeera claimed had taken 
more than 1,000 lives by April 2004. 5 Undoubtedly, the killings 
of academics take place within a broader scope of attacks against 
Iraq's professional middle class that includes medical professionals, 
journalists, judges and lawyers, as well as religious and political 
leaders. 6 Within this context it is hard to say whether academics 
have been specifically singled out as academics or whether the 
institutionalized academic community has been more effective 
at documenting its own plight than other sections of the middle 
class. Regardless of this question, this chapter focuses on the 
decimation of the academic community, whose plight is not to be 
understood in isolation, but as a window into the wider horror 
afflicting occupied Iraq. 

Many of the first assassinated academics fell among the waves 
of targeted killings of members of the Ba'ath Party that became 
obvious towards the end of 2003. 7 According to the reporting 
of the Institute of War and Peace, of the party members who 
lost their jobs in the L. Paul Bremer initiated de-Ba'athification 
process, approximately 1,000 were lecturers and professors. 8 
Andrew Rubin wrote that of the Ba'athists that had been sacked, 
"a surprisingly large number fell victim to assassination." 9 One 
of the earliest victims was Dr. Muhammad al-Rawi, the president 
of Baghdad University and a senior member of the Ba'ath Party, 
who was assassinated in his clinic in July 2003. 10 

The number of killings has continued to rise. By the end of 
2006 the UK's Independent reported that over 470 academics had 
been killed, 11 while the Guardian stated that the figure stood at 
around 500 from Baghdad and Basra Universities alone. 12 There 
are now around 400 cases recorded on the BRusselk Tribunal 

Wiping the Slate Cle 

database. The list is undoubtedly incomplete, as much of the 
data must be derived from media sources, which make no claim 
to assemble complete records. Since the murder of Dr. Issam al- 
Rawi on October 30, 2006, there is no indication that anyone is 
currently attempting to systematically compile this information 
on the ground. 13 

Even amid the horrifying levels of violence in Iraq following the 
occupation, the killings of academics, alongside those of Ba'athists 
and others, have stood out for their highly selective character. In 
fact, although the list of killed academics includes a handful of 
seemingly random deaths, in the vast majority of cases it appears 
that the victims have been specifically singled out, either as the 
immediate target of professional assassins or as the object of so- 
called kidnappings, which resulted in their deaths. 

In his assessment of the killings of academics delivered to a UK 
Cross-Party Commission on Iraq in June 2007, 14 Dr. Ismail Jalili 
demonstrated that the killings of academics have been widely 
dispersed by academic discipline, and that their rate appears to 
have increased over time (Figure 7.1). He has also demonstrated 
the very high proportion of senior academics that have been killed, 
with the majority of victims having attained PhDs and over two 
thirds holding the positions of rector/chancellor, dean or vice dean, 



■ — 

Figure 7.1 Killings of academics and some medical professionals up to May 

Note that the vast majority of undated cases fell in the period up to June 2006. 

Source: Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact and Implications, June 15, 2007, 


152 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

department head or professor (Figure 7.2). Since the murder of Dr. 
al-Rawi, this kind of detailed information has been much harder 
to obtain and is largely dependent on monitoring of the media. 

Students 3% Rector/Chancellor 2% 

^Dean/Vice Dean 12% 

Other \cadcmics I 5% 

Figure 7.2 Proportions of murdered academics by university post up to April 

The majority of killings have taken place within the various 
universities and higher education colleges in Baghdad, especially 
Baghdad University itself (Figure 7.3). Basra and Mosul 
Universities have also seen a substantial number of killings of 
academic staff. The high levels of murder amongst academics at 
the universities of these three cities does not appear to correspond 
with the overall levels of violence in their respective provinces as 
depicted in various surveys. 15 It is likely that these higher levels 
reflect the leading position of these universities as well as the 
potential role of the cities where they are located as capitals in 
an Iraq divided along the major ethno-sectarian lines. 

Wiping the Slate Clean 153 

Figure 7.3 Distribution of murdered academics by city of work up to April 

Dr. Jalili found no indication that violence against academics 
has followed a sectarian agenda, with victims belonging to both 
Sunni and Shi'ite sects, where it was possible to establish such 
an identity. However, the majority of those killed appear to have 
been ethnic Arabs, as opposed to Kurds. 

Targeted Assassinations 

From almost the outset of the occupation Iraqi academics began 
to fall victim to well-organized teams of assassins who ambushed 
them as they went about their daily lives, typically killing them 
instantly. Such killings account for the substantial majority of 
recorded deaths (Figure 7.4), especially from 2003 to 2005. 

Where data exist, most of the victims were killed by small 
groups of armed men at close range. Sometimes they are executed 

154 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Unknown 16°/, 

Non-targeted killings 30% 

I _ I killin 

Figure 7.4 The proportion of Iraqi academics that have fallen victim to 
targeted assassination in relation to the total number of academics killed 
(includes all cases where there is sufficient data to make a reasonable 
assessment), March 2003 to December 2007 

Source: BRussells Tribunal 

at point blank range with handguns; at other times they are 
subjected to a barrage of automatic fire. 

Typical descriptions of such killings take the following 

form: 16 

Dr. Sabri Mustapha al-Bayati, Prof, of Geography; faculty 
member at the College of Art, University of Baghdad. Shot 
dead just outside arts dept in front of students, June 13, 

Dr. Mahfoudh al-Qazzaz, Prof, in Islamic History; faculty 
member at the College of Art, Mosul University. He was 
killed by a death squad in front of his family at his home, 
December 20, 2004. 

Gunmen riding in a civilian car targeted Dr. Qais Sabah 
al-Jabouri, Prof, at the Islamic University in al-Adhamiya, 
after leaving a university building and showered him with 
bullets which led to his immediate death, June 6, 2007. 

Wiping the Slate Clean 155 

• Unknown men rained down a hail of gunfire on Dr. Zaki 
Bakir Sajr al-Anji, lecturer in the College of Education, Al 
Mustansiriya University, and Dr. Husham Abd al-Amire, 
lecturer in College of Literature, at the same university, 
killing them as they were leaving the university, August 28, 

• In a drive-by, gunmen killed Dr. Ali Ahmed Husseinin, a 
professor at the Baghdad Engineering College, in northeastern 
Baghdad, with a machine gun fired from an Opel Vectra. 
May 22, 2006. 

Such methods, while in many ways typical of contemporary 
violence in Iraq, are marked by an unusual level of profession- 
alism. Very few of the intended targets survive and the killers, 
who frequently make use of one or more vehicles to stage their 
attacks and make their escape, display an intimate familiarity with 
their victims' lifestyle and movements. Academics have typically 
been ambushed in their places of work, especially at entrances to 
compounds, while travelling between home and the workplace, 
and at or outside their homes. A former general of the Iraqi Army 
described the pattern in the following terms: "Many of them get 
killed near their houses or on the way to their work, and others 
get kidnapped, and we find their dead bodies in the street. When 
you follow these crimes you will be sure that the criminals have 
special training and their purpose is to make Iraq empty of any 
professionals." 17 Killings have often taken place in public spaces 
and in front of witnesses. Sometimes small groups, including 
families, have been killed at once; sometimes the victim has been 
deliberately separated from friends and colleagues. 

To date, no one had taken responsibility for the killings and there 
is no indication that any of the killers have been apprehended or 
brought to justice. In addition, there is almost no direct evidence 
of which party or parties are responsible, with two noteworthy 
exceptions relating to the killings of academics from the University 
of Mosul. In the first instance, in December 2005, the car of the 
Kurdish historian Dr. Omar Miran was driven off the road into 
a gorge by two four-wheel-drives "typically used by the Kurdish 

156 Cultural Cle 

security forces" with sirens blazing. Dr. Miran was known as an 
opponent of Kurdish separatism and his son, Dr. Abdul Qadir 
Miran, publicly accused the security forces in the region of respon- 
sibility for his father's death. 18 Just weeks later, in February 2006, 
Dr. Abdul Qadir Miran was himself assassinated in his home, 
together with his wife and children. A mysterious seventh body 
was also discovered at the scene wearing "full Kurdish uniform," 
which it is assumed belonged to one of the attackers, whom Dr. 
Miran slew in self-defense. 19 Beyond these isolated and linked 
cases, it is unfortunate that very few details of the crimes have 
been recorded in most instances, making it impossible to know 
whether, for instance, the same cars are commonly employed. 

Death Threats and Intimidation 

Alongside the targeted assassinations of academics and 
other professionals have come explicit and implicit threats of 
assassination. Such threats have taken a variety of forms. Although 
no statistics are available, it appears that the threats are most 
commonly issued in the form of letters. The letters are typically 
pushed under doors or even delivered though the internal mail 
within academic institutions. 20 Explicit threats of death carried in 
the messages, which may be handwritten in childish scrawl, 21 are 
sometimes reinforced by the inclusion of a single bullet, with a 
message that might say: "You cost us just one bullet, no more, so 
shut your mouth" 22 or "Its better to leave your job or you will face 
what you don't want." 23 The bullet itself has become an effective 
shorthand, so that often victims of intimidation receive only a 
bullet. For instance, one lecturer found a bullet on her desk with 
her name written on it, 24 while it has been reported that many 
academics have found bullets in their mail boxes. 25 Such intimate 
yet anonymous forms of delivery serve to heighten the impact with 
their overtones of proximity, familiarity and impunity. 

Threats have also been scrawled on office walls, 26 delivered 
by phone 27 or, to universities, via the internet. 28 Other forms of 
explicit intimidation have included visitations in person, such as 
when a man came to the office of Dr. Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah at 

Wiping the Slate Cle 

Mustansiriya University and told him to close the Human Rights 
Center 29 or when a group of armed men "hysterically raided" the 
campus of Bab Al-Moadham University, roaming corridors and 
rooms, calling the names of professors from a list and threatening 
them with death if they show up in the college, 30 and lists of 
names of people scheduled for death posted on public walls. 31 
In this vein, we can perhaps add the leaking of certain death 
lists, which, to the extent that those on the list are aware of their 
inclusion, becomes a cost-effective form of mass intimidation. 32 
Implicit intimidation has also been reported. For instance, Dr. 
Harb Zakko, a resident of Baghdad's central Karrada district, 
was approached through his mother, who had received calls 
from someone asking her to open the door, saying that they had 
something for Dr. Zakko. These calls were followed by a call to 
Dr. Zakko himself at his clinic, asking personal questions. That 
was enough to convince Dr. Zakko to flee Baghdad. 33 Another 
doctor who wished to remain anonymous first heard that his 
name was on a list, then found that a strange car with heavily 
armed young men had been parked outside his home while he 
was away at a conference. 34 

As with targeted assassinations, there is very little evidence 
of who is directly responsible for issuing the various forms 
of intimidation, but, like the killings themselves, threats and 
intimidation appear to have become a widespread phenomenon 
across Iraq. The exact extent of such intimidation is difficult 
to specify, although one Iraqi academic writing in 2005 
described such threats as "very usual," 35 while a spokesman 
for the Association of University Lecturers stated in November 
2004 that over 400 members had received threats of physical 
harm. 36 Within the College of Dentistry, the Assistant Dean, 
Fakhri Al-Qaisi, noted in January 2006 "that most dentistry 
section professors have received letters of threat." 37 There is 
no indication that the situation has subsequently changed, with 
the Chronicle of Higher Education reporting in May 2007 that 
scores of professors throughout Iraq had received bullets sent 
through internal mail, death threats tacked to their doors or 
anonymous telephone calls during the months recently preceding 

158 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

its report. 38 According to an article in the Christian Science 
Monitor, academics were claiming that some 2,500 university 
professors had been killed, kidnapped, or told to leave the 
country by June 2006. 39 

Explicit messages and demands contained within the threats 
vary, although by far the most common demand is for the victim 
to leave the country, hence such threats have become known as 
"leave or die" messages. 40 Other explicit demands have included 
leaving a workplace, 41 not taking up a specific post, 42 or just 
for the recipient to shut their mouth. 43 Only in one case from 
Basra do we hear that a "leave or die" message was couched 
in specifically sectarian terms ("get out you dirty sunny, or you 
will be slaughtered like the camel" 44 ), although it has also been 
reported that some messages claim that a professor favors a 
particular ethno-sectarian group. 45 

Another category of intimidation that has been reported are 
messages purportedly from students demanding higher grades. 
There is little evidence to substantiate that this is a widespread 
phenomenon or that students are actually the authors of the 
threats. In one case, a professor at Baghdad University, Ali al 
Kafif, was said to have been murdered for failing three students 
after receiving a number of threatening letters. The killer(s) 
apparently left a note near to his body, which read "Death for 
those who are responsible for oppression in the classrooms." 46 
However, the content of the threatening letters has not been 
recorded and the message on the note is extremely ambiguous; 
it might equally imply that Dr. Al Kafif was murdered for his 
perceived political sentiments. 

However, such semantic variations in the language of intimidation 
belie the unity in the underlying grammar of fear, which essentially 
serves two functions, both of which are firmly underlined by the 
actual violence directed against academics and other professionals 
and extends far beyond even the hundreds or thousands that have 
actively been subject to intimidation. The first function is to hound 
them out of their social roles, their homes and, frequently, their 
homeland. As Dahr Jamail shows (in Chapter 8), the impact on 
Iraq's academic, medical and professional community in general 

Wiping the Slate Cle 

has been devastating. By April 2007 the International Committee 
of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors stated that more than 3,000 
university professors had fled the country since the invasion. 47 

The second function of such widespread intimidation is to 
ensure that all those academics who remain in Iraq, whether or 
not they are the immediate object of death threats, exist within a 
massively pervasive culture of fear. Dr. Faris Nadhmi, a founding 
member of the Iraqi Psychological Society and a former lecturer 
at Baghdad University, describes the climate of fear in Appendix 
1 of this book. 

Whilst the personal impact of such terror tactics is enormous 
(analagous to a state of post-traumatic stress), in political terms, 
its effect is to make academics and others increasingly afraid to 
speak out. According to Ahmed Mukhtar, the climate of fear had 
become so pervasive by June 2004 that many professors flatly 
refused to speak about the killings of their colleagues, or even to 
admit that they were happening. 48 Talking about the occupation 
is perceived as particularly dangerous and has become a reason 
for dismissal, 49 while others live in fear of offending any number 
of groups suspected of murder and mayhem. 50 The climate of fear 
even extends to the security guards, who are widely perceived 
as potential persecutors rather than as protectors. 51 To shield 
themselves, professors at Baghdad's universities have begun 
dressing down, putting on Arab headscarves and driving to work 
in old, scruffy cars. 52 

The climate of fear within universities is also exacerbated by the 
incursion of religious fundamentalism, which can take a variety 
of forms. One form is for demands to be issued by anonymous or 
unknown groups for students to be segregated by gender and for 
the institution to stop teaching "Western ideals." 53 Students are 
reported to have felt such pressures to the extent that thousands 
have requested transfers to campuses where their sect is in the 
majority. 54 Such incursions also contribute to undermining the 
non-sectarian and essentially secular character of the Iraqi system 
of higher education. 

160 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Kidnapping and Detention 

Whilst kidnapping is generally included in the list of crimes faced by 
Iraqi academics, it is typically seen as an outlying phenomenon in 
relation to targeted assassinations, characterized as a symptom of 
general lawlessness, rather than as part of the specific persecution 
of the academic community. Hence IRIN commented in October 
2004 that "as professionals with stable jobs they [academics] 
present easy targets for gangs who simply want to get money. " 5S A 
similar point was made by Sabrina Tavernise in May 2005: "The 
simple quest for money, which fuels the country's widespread 
kidnapping industry, appears to be the biggest motivation for 
making targets of doctors." 56 

Although several commentators, including Issam al-Rawi, 
former head of the AUT, have highlighted the fact that payment 
of ransom does not guarantee the safe return of the victim, 57 the 
assumption that a ransom is necessarily involved has tended to 
prejudice perceptions of authorship, so that it is "gangs" and 
"local mafias" 58 that conduct kidnappings. One effect of this 
discourse has been to distance the killings of academics and other 
professionals from the more endemic "sectarian violence," the 
victims of which have tended to have been tortured and summarily 
executed under conditions of detention. 59 

In fact, a significant proportion of the recorded cases of deaths 
of academics (some 35 percent where sufficient information is 
available; see Figure 7.5) appear to have occurred under conditions 
of some form of detention, following the forceful seizure of the 
victims from their homes, workplaces or in the course of their 
normal routines. For instance, Dr. Samir Yalda, Assistant Director 
of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at 
Mustansiriya University, was seized in front of the university gate 
and his body was found in the street three days later on August 
3. 60 In fact, the proportion of killings following forced abduction 
in relation to overall deaths rose rapidly between 2004 and 2007, 
to the extent that in 2007 nearly 50 percent of all killings of 
academics took place in detention and must therefore be seen as 
a second and potentially distinct phenomenon (Figure 7.6). 

Detention 35°/ 

Wiping the Slate Clean 161 

Other workplac 

Figure 7.5 Killings of Iraqi academics by place of death, 2003-07 

Source: BRusselts Tribunal 

Proportions Place by Year 




_ 15 _ 


□ Detention 

□ Street etc. 

□ Other workplace 
■ College 

U< :limc/Surgery 






2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 

Figure 7.6 Killings of Iraqi academics by place of death overtime, 2003-07 

Includes all cases where there is sufficient data to ma 

162 Cultural Cle 

As Issam al-Rawi noted, such killings do not preclude the 
possibility that a ransom will be asked and paid, although there 
are only two recorded instances in the BRusselk Tribunal database 
( Wissam al Hashimi, chairman of the Arab Geologists Union, and 
Uday al Beiruti, an ENT specialist at Al Nahrain University). One 
thing that is striking is that in all the cases where sufficient data 
exist, killings within conditions of detention rapidly followed 
abduction (typically within two days and often after a matter of 
hours), which suggests that in such cases obtaining a ransom was 
not the primary motivation. In fact, there is no indication that 
ransoms are typically demanded at all in such cases. 

As with cases of targeted assassinations and threats, very few 
positive identifications of those responsible for killings within 
detention have been made. However, in at least six cases, direct 
accusations or sufficient eye-witness observations have been 
recorded to offer some evidence of culpability. In the four cases 
where direct accusations have been recorded, the culprits seem 
to enjoy an ambiguous identity as both representatives of the 
new security forces and simultaneously Shi'ite militiamen. In the 
earliest of the four, Dr. Kadhum Mashhut Awad, Dean of the 
Faculty of Agriculture at Basra University, is described as having 
been found cut into pieces after being taken from his home by 
police. The account goes on to state that he was "assassinated 
by a death squad of Failaq Badir [Badr Brigade] - Iranian militia 
working under the American Authority." The next three cases 
all focus on the supposed Mahdi Army militia associated with 
the Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al Sadr. In one, Uday al Beiruti, head 
of the Faculty of Medicine at Nahrain University, is described 
as being kidnapped from Kadimia hospital by the Mahdi Army 
after being circled by four new BMWs, but alternative sources 
claim his abductors were gunmen in Interior Ministry uniforms. 61 
In the second, Khalid al Naid, Assistant Dean of the Medical 
College at Nahrain University, is said to have been taken by 
"the militia which controls the area of the Medical School." The 
Sunday Times identifies this militia as the Mahdi Army, but it 
is extremely likely that over and above any informal identity 
that such "militiamen" might have, the "militia which controls 

Wiping the Slate Clean 163 

the area of the Medical School" would more formally belong 
to either the Facilities Protection Service or a National Police 
Brigade. In the final case, the body of Mahdi Saleh al Any, a 
"sunni professor," is described as being found two weeks after 
being "abducted by police" and that he was a victim of al-Mahdi 
militias. His body was found with drill holes and bullet wounds 
in the head and chest, entirely consistent with having been killed 
within a para-legal detention facility. 62 

In the two cases where incriminating eye-witness observations 
have been recorded, these also suggest the involvement of the 
security forces. On September 10, 2007, Muayad Ahmad Khalaf 
was abducted by men in three cars, one of which was described as 
bearing a government license plate, and in late 2006 the neurologist 
Dr. Lu'ay Mas'ud was taken away by men in uniform, before his 
body was found in a waste ground close to the Sadr City (formerly 
Al Thawa) area of Baghdad. These anecdotal examples convey a 
significant impression that at least some members of the security 
forces are involved in the detention/abduction/arrest and murder 
of academics and that there is a considerable degree of confusion 
over the identity of the "official" security forces vis-a-vis illegal 
or para-legal armed actors. 63 

One final case that may shed some light on the authorship of 
these crimes is that of Dr. Ali Faraj, one of Iraq's top cardiologists. 
He narrowly escaped being abducted when armed men in ski- 
masks broke into his Baghdad clinic. The gunmen indicated that 
they wanted to take him to the Interior Ministry, but prevented 
Dr. Faraj from making a telephone call to confirm that their 
orders came from the Interior Minister. Dr. Faraj escaped after a 
neighbor's guards intervened when they saw him being dragged 
out to a car. 64 

Even where academics have been abducted and released, there 
are indications that the motives of their abductors are frequently 
the same as those that drive the persecution of academics more 
generally. Most importantly, according to Dr. Muthana al Dhari, 
a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, many of 
those detained "are receiving threats of future abuse if they do 
not take the necessary steps, which is to leave Iraq." 65 The same 

164 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

point was made in relation to a wave of abductions of top medical 
specialists, many of whom were ordered by their abductors to 
leave the country, sometimes with a deadline. 66 According to 
the author, some of these were beaten and tortured; others were 
released after a ransom was paid. Thus, as with those academics 
who receive written or verbal warnings to leave the country, an 
important objective of those carrying out abductions is to rid 
the country of certain undesirables and more broadly to create a 
climate of fear in which a large part of Iraq's former professional 
class are encouraged to seek refuge abroad or to relocate within 
the country, effectively becoming internally displaced. Again, 
this can overlap with demands for payment, as well as with the 
abduction of family members, as with the abduction of the son 
of Saadoon Isa, Vice President of Nahrain University, who was 
released following the payment of a ransom with an explicit 
message for his father: "Tell him to leave the country because 
Iraq is not his, it is ours." 67 Thus, within the pattern of abuse 
directed at academics, it seems appropriate to see many of the 
cases of kidnapping/detention as part of a more general process 
of murder and intimidation. By June 2004, according to Zuheir 
al Maliki, a judge at the Central Criminal Court, only three of 
many kidnappings had been investigated. 68 

The Authorship of Killings of Iraqi Academics 

Motive and Opportunity 

The assassinations of academics, doctors and other professionals 
in Iraq has attracted considerable media attention, with wide 
speculation about both the authorship of these crimes and the 
motives behind them. The list of suspected assassins that have 
been suggested is long, extending from the Ba'athists, Islamists 
and "insurgents," the Badr Brigade, Mahdi Army and other 
groups linked to political parties, through the Mossad, CIA and 
the intelligence apparatuses of every surrounding state, as well as 
private security companies, all the way to gangs and disgruntled 
students. Of the various allegations that have been made, a handful 

Wiping the Slate Clean 165 

stand out for their strength and specificity, their repetition or for 
the perceived insight of their authors. 

The first serious allegation to emerge was that Israel, through 
its intelligence service Mossad, was responsible for the killings of 
Iraqi scientists and academics. No hard evidence was produced, 
but the accusation gained currency through a series of influential 
statements. The first of these statements was made on French 
television in April 2003 by an anonymous retired French general, 
who claimed that 150 Israeli commandos had been sent into Iraq 
to assassinate 500 Iraqi scientists linked with weapons programs. 69 
At the end of 2004 an anti-war conference in Cairo concluded 
that Israeli secret agents had been responsible for the killing of 
more than 300 Iraqi scientists since the invasion, 70 although it is 
unclear on what basis this conclusion was reached. 

The charge of Israeli orchestration of the killings was 
subsequently reinforced by references to information published by 
the Palestine Information Centre in June 2005, which purported to 
cite a US State Department document intended for the president, 
demonstrating Mossad involvement. 71 In fact, the references are 
not directly to the original publication, but to an anonymous 
article published on the website (a news and 
discussion forum quite distinct from the better-known satellite 
channel Al Jazeera). There is no trace of the original article to 
be found online and therefore it is impossible to know to what 
State Department report any such article referred. Given that 
the report is also reputed to have incriminated the US Defense 
Department, it seems extremely unlikely that any genuine such 
report ever existed. 

A further, though slightly less direct, element in the case against 
Israel was a report by Julian Borger published in the Guardian 
in late 2003. 72 Quoting anonymous former senior intelligence 
officials and "well-informed intelligence sources," Borger claimed 
that Israeli advisors operating at Fort Bragg were training US 
forces in aggressive counterinsurgency techniques that amounted 
to "basically an assassination programme." 

It seemed obvious to many that Israel has a vested interest in 
preventing the reemergence of Iraq as a competing regional power 

166 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

and specifically that they might want to forestall any possibility 
of Iraq becoming a nuclear-armed state in the future. It should 
be noted that while Israel was implicated directly, to many Iraqis 
such an implication went hand in hand with a belief that Israel 
and the US were working together, or at least that the US was 
tolerating such a policy. 

The second major allegation to emerge was that pro-Iranian 
forces were responsible for the killings. This charge began to take 
hold towards the end of 2005 when the American Association for 
the Advancement of Science reported that some Iraqi academics 
claimed the Badr Brigade, the supposedly disarmed military 
wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq 
previously based in Iran, was responsible for some of the assas- 
sinations. 73 At the same time, the satellite channel Al Jazeera 
quoted an Iraqi political analyst as stating that Iranian-backed 
militias were holding teachers of Arabic and history as allies of 
the Ba'ath Party, on whom they were exacting revenge. 74 The 
charge came against a rising tide of extrajudicial killings that left 
scores of bodies on Baghdad's streets each day and in which the 
Badr Brigade was frequently singled out as a major participant, 
despite the persistent evidence of involvement by elements of the 
security forces. 75 It is argued that Iran favors the dismantling of 
Iraq's secular institutions in order to advance its own hegemony 
in the region. 

The charge of Iranian or pro-Iranian involvement was almost 
the mirror image of the position held by the occupying forces and 
new Iraqi authorities, which principally claimed that Ba'athist 
"insurgents" and foreign fighters were responsible for the killings 
as part of their efforts to halt progress. 76 Nevertheless, both 
positions gradually fed into what now appears to have become 
a more or less established mainstream solution: that extremists 
on both sides of an internal sectarian conflict have targeted 
academics in what has even been described as "an orgy of mindless 
terrorism." 77 This new synthesis found favor with the likes of 
John Agresto, senior advisor to the higher education ministry in 
Iraq from 2003 to 2004, who in 2007 insisted that "Their secular 
nature is what is getting them targeted." 78 

Wiping the Slate Clean 167 

What has been strikingly and shockingly absent from n 
discourse is even the merest hint that the Anglo-American 
occupation might be actively responsible for the purge of Iraqi 
academics. In this failure to grapple with what is clearly the most 
obvious solution, this mainstream discourse has blindly accepted 
the contention put forward by representatives of the occupation, 
such as Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt who is known to have 
said, "This works against everything we're trying to do here." In 
fact it is possible to take a far more empirical attitude. 

If, as representatives of the British and American states publicly 
insist, it is their intention to build a functional democratic state 
that respects human rights, it is clearly in their interests to protect 
and preserve Iraq's "human capital." Such a strategy would 
implicitly involve opposing the murder and terrorization of Iraqi 
academics. If, on the other hand, it is their intention to dominate 
the country's natural resources, impose a proxy government and 
possibly even to break the country into smaller, more manageable 
pieces (divide and conquer), it might very well be in the interests 
of those powers to destroy the backbone of Iraq as an integrated 
secular nation with an ideogolical commitment to a centralized 
economy and a welfare state. Eliminating Iraqi academics might 
very well constitute one strand of such a strategy. 

To determine which of those two mutually independent strategies 
the occupying powers are pursuing at the level of competing 
discourses would mean attempting to set public proclamations 
of "freedom and democracy" against the less well-publicized, 
but nevertheless high-powered, statements and theories about 
"natural states" 79 and the necessary federalization of Iraq, 80 
notions of "creative chaos" 81 and the strategic imperatives of US 
global hegemony 82 to determine which of them was setting policy. 
But in fact we do not have to leave this debate in the realm of 
conflicting discourses. Despite the fact that there is very little in 
the way of direct evidence of culpability, we can nevertheless look 
at what evidence there is in an attempt to determine whether the 
occupation has done its best to protect and nurture Iraq's "intel- 
ligentsia" or whether it has facilitated their murder and removal. 
Two important case studies will provide a useful foundation for 

168 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

understanding what must be termed a culture of impunity, while 
an assessment of the creation of the new intelligence apparatus and 
the forces of the Interior Ministry will lay the basis for recognizing 
the most likely apparatus of violence. 

Case Study 1: Professor Tareq Samarree 

The case of Dr. Tareq Samarree is thus far unique 83 in offering 
a potential window into the "kidnapping" of Iraqi academics. 84 
Tareq Samarree held the post of Professor of Pedagogy at Baghdad 
University prior to the invasion and was a long-standing member 
of the Ba'ath Party. Professor Samarree was forced from his job 
shortly after the invasion under the prevailing climate of de- 
Ba'athification. For the next year and a half he lived an almost 
clandestine existence at a family farmhouse outside Samarra. On 
March 3, 2005, Dr. Samarree was forcibly detained at his home 
by armed men claiming to be from the government. He was taken 
away and held at the Jadriya detention facility in Baghdad with 
many other detainees. Dr. Samarree was never formally charged 
and had no access to the outside world, nor any form of formal 
judicial process. During his detention he was repeatedly tortured 
physically and subjected to continual abuse and terror. He was 
specifically questioned about his role in the Ba'ath Party and the 
whereabouts of other party members. The detention facility held 
not only academics but a range of Iraqis including an artist and 
a Sunni Imam. 

Dr. Samarree's ordeal at Jadriya came to an end in November 
2005 when US soldiers entered the detention facility and the story 
of Iraqi prisoner abuse hit the world headlines. 85 Dr. Samarree 
was among a group taken to a hospital due to the severity of 
his injuries, but when it became clear that the group was to be 
returned to Iraqi custody, he and a number of his companions 
escaped with the assistance of a sympathetic US soldier. Professor 
Samarree subsequently fled Iraq and has been granted asylum 
in Europe. 

Soon after the discovery of the Jadriya detention facility it 
was widely reported that the Interior Ministry facility had been 

Wiping the Slate Clean 169 

run by pro-Iranian militia elements within the Interior Ministry 
without US knowledge and that an investigation into the facility 
would be launched by the Iraqi government with US assistance 
and that efforts to prevent similar abuse at other facilities would 
receive high priority. 86 

First of all it must be stated that, more than two years later, 
the promised Iraqi government report into the Jadriya facility 
has still not been made public and there is no indication that any 
individuals were held accountable for abuse. 87 It is simply not 
credible that the US government would have been unable to exert 
sufficient pressure to make such a report public or to conduct its 
own investigations if the protection of Iraq's "human capital" 
was a genuine concern. Nor was any effort made to involve the 
appropriate international bodies, such as the UN rapporteurs for 
torture and extrajudicial killings. 

Secondly, several sources have alleged that US personnel were 
well aware of the existence of the detention facility long before its 
official discovery. Those sources include Hadi al Amiri, the head of 
the Badr Organization, whose own forces were widely accused of 
running the facility, 88 and the United Nations Assistance Mission 
in Iraq. 89 

Thirdly, no attempt was made to protect Professor Samarree, 
offer him judicial assistance or even to question him regarding 
his experiences by US authorities. His testimony has now been 
joined by that of another former detainee at Jadriya, Abbas 
Abid. Unlike Professor Samarree, Mr. Abid remained in Iraqi 
government detention following the US intervention, where he 
continued to be repeatedly tortured. 90 

Whist Dr. Samarree 's case may not be typical of the persecution 
of academics, it provides an insightful test case into the attitude of 
US authorities towards prisoner abuse in general and specifically 
the persecution of at least one academic. In the very few cases 
in which academics have been killed within conditions of 
detention and any positive identification of the perpetrators has 
been recorded, it has been strongly indicative of involvement by 
elements of the security forces. In view of such evidence, the case 
of Dr. Samarree and the existence of the Jadriya detention facility 

170 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

must be viewed as relevant to the issue of the killing of academics. 
That so little has been done is instructive of the attitude of the 
occupying powers. 

Case Study 2: The Raid on the Ministry of Higher 

On November 14, 2006, paramilitary gunmen in the uniforms of 
Iraqi National Police commandos raided a building belonging to 
the Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad's Karrada district 
and forcibly detained around 100 members of staff from two 
departments and around 50 visitors, according to the Minister 
of Higher Education. 91 The raid took place in broad daylight, 
1 kilometer from the Green Zone, in an area that contained 
several high-security compounds, including the department 
where passports are issued. According to a BBC correspondent 
the Karrada area is "well protected with a heavy presence of 
Iraqi troops and several checkpoints." 92 The paramilitary force 
estimated at between at least 50 and 100 arrived in a fleet of some 
20-30 camouflage pickup trucks of the kind employed by the 
Interior Ministry and established a cordon of the area. They stated 
that they were from an anti-corruption unit and were carrying out 
arrests ahead of a visit by the US ambassador. 93 The paramilitaries 
made their arrests according to lists, confirming the identities of 
those present by their ID cards. The paramilitaries then made 
their exit through heavy traffic without opposition. 

Within days Prime Minister Maliki declared that this was not 
a case of terrorism, but a dispute between "militias" and that all 
of the detainees had been released in a series of police raids. 94 A 
number of senior policemen, including the district police chief 
and the commander of a National Police paramilitary commando 
brigade and three other officers were reportedly detained for 
questioning over possible complicity. 

However, the Education Ministry insisted that only around 70 
of 150 detainees (both Sunnis and Shi'ites) had been released. 95 
In addition, it reported that some of those released had been 
tortured (some legs and hands had been broken) and that there 

Wiping the Slate Clean 171 

were allegations that others had been killed. One released 
detainee, whose own arm had been broken in detention, described 
seeing three security guards suffocated to death and hearing a 
number of senior academics that had been put in a separate room 
screaming in agony; according to the witness their cries were cut 
off abruptly. 96 The witness also said that he had not been released 
as the result of a police raid but that his captors had simply 
dumped him and others at various locations around Baghdad. 
His account is partially confirmed by earlier reports, which stated 
that those released had been blindfolded and deposited in various 
parts of Baghdad. 

Since Maliki's statement that all of the detainees had been 
released (later reinforced by the National Security Advisor 
Mowaffak Rubaie), several more detainees were released after 
undergoing torture. 97 Little more than two weeks after the raid, 
the bodies of two ministry officials, Dr. Abdil Salam Al Suwaydan, 
head of the Scholarship department, and Abdil Hameed Hamadani, 
were found bearing signs of torture and mutilation. 98 No further 
word has been heard about the remaining dozens of people that 
the Education Ministry insisted were still missing. 

In view of the circumstances surrounding this case, it is very 
difficult to believe that any forces but officially sanctioned ones 
could have made such a daring daylight assault in one of the most 
secure areas of Baghdad. It is equally impossible to believe that 
any forces but Interior Ministry ones could have assembled a fleet 
of Interior Ministry camouflage pickup trucks. The designation 
of the paramilitaries responsible for this abduction as Interior 
Ministry commandos is fully confirmed by eyewitness testimony, 
who specified that at least some of the raiders were wearing blue 
camouflage uniforms of a digitally designed type very recently 
introduced to National Police commandos by the US, specifically 
intended to prevent other parties from masquerading as National 
Police commandos. 99 That the raid was conducted by Interior 
Ministry forces in fact seems to have been confirmed from the 
outset by Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, who 
claimed the mass detention was the work of militiamen who had 
infiltrated the Interior Ministry. 

172 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Just as in the case of Jadriya, we once again find that officially 
sanctioned elements of the security forces have been involved with 
the persecution of academics and that the response of both the 
Iraqi government and the coalition has consisted of nothing but 
empty promises of investigation and redress, as well as, in this 
case, outright lies. Again it must be assumed that the coalition 
does not have a vested interest in preventing the destruction of 
Iraqi "human capital." 

These two cases underline the most important single piece 
of evidence in the elimination of Iraqi academics: that to date 
none of the killers have been caught and we are no closer to a 
detailed understanding of this horrific phenomenon. Whilst this 
n has frequently been characterized as one of lawlessness 
i reporting, it is important to recognize that what 
we actually appear to be witnessing is an institutionalized culture 
of impunity 100 that is a common aspect of state-sanctioned terror 
and is endemic in the violence of counterinsurgency conflicts. 101 
If there were no alternative paradigm through which to view this 
killing spree, it would strain credulity to its limits to believe that 
the agents of foreign governments without military presences 
in Iraq, rogue agents operating within the security institutions 
established under US military occupation, armed rebels, foreign 
jihadis and criminal gangs could have continued to murder so 
many of Iraq's intelligentsia so brazenly and enjoyed such complete 
immunity from prosecution. However, an alternative paradigm 
does exist and one that has the distinction of being at once far more 
plausible theoretically and infinitely better rooted empirically. That 
paradigm begins to surface under the policy of de-Ba'athification 
instituted by Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority. 

De-Ba'athification and the Origin of the Purge of 

Within days of the beginning of the occupation it started to 
become clear that US administrators intended to fundamentally 
reshape not just Iraq's government, but also the public institutions 

Wiping the Slate Clean 173 

that made up a major part of the country's social fabric, including 
those in the field of higher education. 102 

Under the guiding hand of Andrew Erdmann, the US senior 
advisor to the ministry of higher education, the policy was to wipe 
the slate clean on the pretext that the new Iraqi state required 
a symbolic cutting of ties with the old "regime" and that it was 
necessary to develop a "real education system" despite Iraq's 
formerly high academic standing. 103 In practice this meant that 
the upper echelons of the Ba'ath Party were to be excluded and 
the past was to be, literally, rewritten from a pro-American 
perspective. 104 An initial step was to hold elections within 
universities to appoint new presidents, vice presidents and deans, 
the vast majority of whom were seen as too closely linked to the 
pre-invasion government. Dr. Tareq Samarree has described the 
way in which this process worked at Baghdad University. 

The day after the fall of Baghdad Dr. Samarree and other senior 
members of staff returned to the university, where they found 
US soldiers, anti-Ba'athist slogans and un-uniformed gunmen. 
A plethora of mass-produced posters spread around the campus 
carried images of Shi'ite clerics linked with the Daawa Party and 
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A week later, 
when payday arrived, Dr. Samarree was warned not to come into 
the university to collect his salary, as his name had appeared fourth 
on a list of Ba'athists on public display within the university. On 
April 22 a meeting was held at the university to discuss a new 
curriculum and a new academic structure. The atmosphere at 
the meeting was extremely intimidating despite the presence of 
US soldiers, with the names of Ba'athists publicly displayed on a 
screen. Eventually, Dr. Samarree and a colleague decided it would 
be prudent to leave the meeting, only to find that their cars had 
been set alight in the car park. 105 

These initial indications of the direction of US policy were 
crystallized on May 16 with the Coalition Provisional Authority's 
"Order No 1: De-Ba'athification of Iraqi Society." 106 According 
to this order the top four rungs of the Ba'ath Party organizational 
structure (estimated at about 120,000 people) were to be dismissed 
from their posts and barred from taking up employment in the 

174 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

public sector in the future. A de-Ba'athification Committee was 
established in November under Ahmed Chalabi, 107 leader of the 
Iraqi National Congress party, a group which had for many years 
received funding from the CIA. 108 Thousands of workers within the 
field of education were subsequently dismissed, including hundreds 
of senior academics across various scientific disciplines, including 
some 283 from Baghdad University alone. 109 The purge was very 
unpopular and some of those dismissed actively campaigned for 
their reemployment, while thousands of their former colleagues 
signed petitions appealing against the decisions. 110 

Many of those who were dismissed retreated to their homes or 
sought refuge abroad against a backdrop of rising intimidation. 111 
For the new rulers of Iraq and the opposition parties that they had 
brought with them, it was very much the Ba'ath Party with whom 
they were, at least publicly, at war. 112 Party members were accused 
of organizing opposition to the occupation, 113 filtering down to 
unsubstantiated allegations that individual academics, such as 
Sa'ad al Zuhairi, had led groups of irregular Fedayeen forces and 
committed acts of sabotage against their own institutions. 114 Any 
line that existed between de-Ba'athification and counterinsurgency 
was always perilously thin. 

In this environment graffiti appeared bearing such slogans as 
"The blood of Saddam's unbelievers will pay for the lives of all our 
Islamic martyrs" 115 and many former members of the Ba'ath Party 
were illegally detained or assassinated. Those murdered included 
teachers, lawyers, doctors, former members of the armed forces 
and academics. The pattern was recognized by the end of 2003, 
when the Washington Post reported that over the previous few 
months of that year, around 50 former senior security officials 
had been gunned down, while the death toll among neighborhood 
officials across Baghdad was even higher. 116 In the Sadr City district 
of Baghdad the death rate in December was as much as one or 
two per day. According to both the Post and Knight Ridder, 117 
local police officers described some of these killings as "absolutely 
organized" and "meticulously planned," with one stating that the 
killers had "specific knowledge of the targets' homes and usual 
driving routes." 

Wiping the Slate Clean 175 

In Basra killings of former Ba'athists and government officials, 
including several teachers, began at the end of 2003. On 
November 1, 2003, the New York Times reported that "over 
the past month, more than a dozen former senior members of 
Saddam Hussein's government have been shot dead in the streets 
of this normally peaceful city - two of them this week alone, 
both shot in the head at close range." 118 Amnesty International 
highlighted that in at least seven instances that it was aware of 
in Basra, former educators who had lost their jobs as a result 
of the de-Ba'athification Order were invited to reapply for their 
positions or a pension. Immediately after leaving the Directorate 
of Education, where they had registered their personal details, 
including their party rank, the seven men were all gunned down 
at close range. According to Amnesty many of the killings in Basra 
were of middle-ranking Ba'athists. 119 

It is impossible to consider the killing of Iraqi academics without 
taking into account these early killings of Ba'ath Party members 
for several reasons. Firstly, some of the murdered academics, such 
as Muhammad al-Rawi, president of Baghdad University, were 
undoubtedly party members and it is impossible to know at this 
point in time what proportion of these academics belonged to 
the Ba'ath. 120 Secondly, in their modus operandi, many of the 
killings of Ba'athists and academics are essentially identical: 
brazen, professional-style hits employing detailed knowledge of 
the victims' routines, making use of cars and carried out under a 
blanket of impunity despite massive force presence in the areas of 
attack. It is therefore highly likely that the same or related parties 
are responsible for both sets of extrajudicial killings. Finally, it 
must be borne in mind that the de-Ba'athification Committee 
remains active into 2008, m demonstrating that there was no 
speedy finish to the process of de-Ba'athification. 

The Intelligence Apparatus 

The advantage of this digression into killings of Ba'athists is that 
we are able to build up a partial picture of the apparatus that was 

176 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

designed to combat the party and which may well be responsible 
for at least a proportion of both sets of killings. 

One of the earliest reports relating to the battle against the 
Ba'ath Party was a December 15, 2003 article in the New Yorker 
by Seymour Hersh. 122 In it, Hersh, citing anonymous officials, 
claimed the Bush administration was planning to stand up a 
special forces group (Task Force 121), whose highest priority 
would be the "neutralization" of Ba'athist "insurgents" by capture 
or assassination, specifically targeting what was referred to as the 
"broad middle" of the Ba'athist underground. 

Shortly before this stark warning the Washington Post had 
announced that US proconsul Paul Bremmer had agreed with the 
Iraqi Governing Council to the establishment of an 800-strong 
Iraqi paramilitary unit, whose operatives were to be drawn from 
former security forces personnel and members of the armed 
wings of the five main opposition (exile) parties 123 and whose 
targets would include "supporters of former president Saddam 
Hussein." 124 The force was to include a domestic intelligence- 
gathering arm. The unit, which at the time would have been the 
most powerful force under Interior Ministry command, was to 
work side by side with US special forces and be overseen by US 
military commanders, presumably under the umbrella of Task 
Force 121. 

It seems very likely that this paramilitary unit must have 
overlapped with the teams of CIA-sponsored militia (paramili- 
taries) knows as Scorpions, that had been operating since the 
invasion. 125 These teams were recruited from Iraqi exiles and were 
employed to infiltrate resistance groups, to interrogate suspects 
and, from time to time, to do "the dirty work," according to an 
anonymous intelligence official. 

Further detail about the new paramilitary intelligence structure 
was supplied later by the Knight Ridder news agency. 126 Knight 
Ridder reported that immediately after the invasion the CIA took 
operatives from the militias of the six largest opposition (exile) 
parties, which they welded into an organization known as the 
Collection Management and Analysis Directorate (CMAD), whose 
task was to "turn raw data into targets." In other words, the 

Wiping the Slate Clean 177 

same militiamen now widely held responsible for Iraq's internal 
violence were given responsibility for selecting the opponents in a 
counterinsurgency conflict. This organization was subsequently to 
form the nucleus for Iraq's new state intelligence apparatus, with 
branches in the interior and defense ministries and a special core 
of operatives picked out to form a national intelligence agency. 
According to Knight Ridder, the CIA retained control of the 
intelligence apparatus after the transfer of sovereignty. 127 

Whilst these various units and agencies were ostensibly aimed 
at combating an armed opposition, 128 at the same time that they 
were growing and developing, the process of de-Ba'athification 
was continuing apace. A series of windows relating to the activities 
of two shadowy groups sheds more light on the process of de- 
Ba'athification and reveals that de-Ba'athification itself overlapped 
with the world of paramilitary intelligence operations. 

The first window relates to the de-Ba'athification Committee 
which was established in 2003 under the chairmanship of 
Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). A 
communique released by the INC in May 2003, before the official 
inauguration of the Committee, reveals the existence of armed 
paramilitary teams. 

Yesterday, on the outskirts of Baghdad in the area of Wahash, one of the 
debaathification teams of the INC was attacked by two vehicles carrying 
armed men. A fire fight broke out and two of the INC members were lightly 
wounded. The INC debaathifaction team was pursued back to the Hunting 
Club (the INC's Baghdad headquarters), where another fire fight broke out. 
In the gun battle, 2 of the attackers were seriously wounded. 

Two hours later, the American military arrived at the Hunting Club after 
hearing reports of the fire fight. They subsequently moved to arrest some 35 
members of the INC and confiscate their weapons. The American military 
liaison to the INC intervened with the U.S. forces and explained that they had 
just arrested U.S. allies. All INC members were subsequently released. 129 

Thus the same political party that the CIA was using to build 
an intelligence-gathering arm and Bremmer was calling on for 
paramilitaries was already sending out paramilitary teams to 
conduct intelligence-based operations in collaboration with an 

178 Cultural Clean; 

American military liaison. It is extremely likely that such de- 
Ba'athification teams fell under the mantle of Task Force 121, 
whose mission was to kill or capture the broad middle of the 
Ba'athist underground. 

A further window into the activities of the de-Ba'athification 
Committee occurred in mid-2004, when a doctor who had been 
abducted accused three members of involvement. 130 The accused 
included Aras Habid, the head of the INC's intelligence wing, 
who would almost certainly have been a key figure in the imple- 
mentation of de-Ba'athification. 131 It was at this point that the 
US officially severed relations with the INC, and warrants were 
issued for the arrest of 15 of its members including Habid. But, 
in fact, the US liaison to the INC, Francis Brooke, claimed that 
the INC had received prior warning of the US raid and had 
removed their computers and that nothing of any "intelligence 
value" was recovered. There is no evidence that Habid was ever 
apprehended and the INC continued to hold the chair of the de- 
Ba'athification Committee. 132 

The second group that appears to have a bearing on the process 
of de-Ba'athification, and that has been particularly prominent in 
Basra, is a party/militia known as Tha'r Allah (God's Revenge). 
This group was first mentioned in the western media by Radio 
Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) in late 2003, which reported 
that a group by that name had been operating in Baghdad, and 
had issued a statement on November 1 in which it claimed that 
it was "hunting down and killing supporters of the Saddam 
Hussein regime," specifically those who worked in security and 
intelligence. 133 The group claimed its membership came from 
"all the factions" of Iraqi people. Agence French-Presse (AFP) 
reported that a group by the same name appeared in Basra 
later that month, where it was under the leadership of Yusuf 
al-Musawi, who, in a similar vein, claimed that al-Qaeda was 
working with Hussein loyalists. 134 

Despite its avowed murderous intentions, Tha'r Allah appears 
to have enjoyed a similar degree of nurturing by the British to 
that afforded to the INC by the Americans. In one early encounter 
between the British and Tha'r Allah in March 2004, British 

Wiping the Slate Clean 179 

soldiers are reported to have apologized to the paramilitary 
Islamist organization and returned its weapons, stating that, "We 
are not in the business of charging around arresting people." 135 
More significantly, the head of Tha'r Allah, Yusuf al-Musawi, 
had a place on the Provincial Council and held some sort of 
intelligence/security portfolio. 136 According to the Telegraph, the 
Deputy Governor had discussed the appointment of a new police 
chief with a representative of Tha'r Allah in February 2005, 137 
while a January 2005 article in the Iraqi Al-Sabah newspaper 
records that al-Musawi, who is the head of the higher supervisory 
commission of the Basra Council, was appointed as a supervisor 
for Basra's night time checkpoints, "subordinating for Basra 
Police leadership." 138 In August 2005, evidence of Tha'r Allah's 
involvement with political assassinations was given to The Times, 
which interviewed an eye-witness who claimed that Tha'r Allah 
had tried to assassinate his father, a former naval officer. When 
the family had fought Tha'r Allah off, they were arrested by the 
police and tortured for over a week. 139 

Such bizarre fragments were crystallized in a report submitted 
to the United Nations following a raid on Tha'r Allah conducted 
by the Basra Governor in October 2005. The raid took place 
after relations with the British had broken down following their 
assault on the Jamiyat police station to rescue two undercover 
British operatives arrested by the Iraqi police in late 2005. The 
report claimed that Yusuf al-Musawi was an officer in police 
intelligence and that the raid had resulted in the arrest of dozens 
of death-squad members and the seizure of their vehicles. 140 The 
response to the raid from central government was fury and a 
team with US advisors was quickly sent in to shake up the police 
force. 141 Al-Musawi himself was never sucessfully prosecuted and 
he and Tha'r Allah continued to impose their "vigilante justice" 
on Basra for at least the next two years. 

The relationship between Tha'r Allah and police intelligence 
might have seemed all the more remarkable if it were not for a 
much earlier expose of the intelligence apparatus in Basra by 
British journalist Stephen Grey. 142 Grey reported that the killings 
of Ba'athists in Basra emanated from the Special Operations 

180 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Department set up by the British and based at the Jamiyat police 
station. Although British sources claimed that the undercover 
operatives arrested by Iraqi police had been targeting corruption 
within the Jamiyat, it was later revealed by the New York Times 
that US intelligence officers had been working at the Jamiyat, 
supplying the names of suspects, despite the fact that they were 
aware that the names were being "leaked" to death squads. 143 
The British cover story, which began with countering Iranian 
weapons smuggling, appeared to be nothing but. No investigation 
was forthcoming and the rate of death-squad killings in Basra 
if anything rose following the British intervention. 144 The firm 
promise that a British Army officer had made in 2003 that those 
responsible for the killings of Ba'athists would be caught was 
nothing but hollow rhetoric. 145 

So in the case of the killings of Ba'athists it appears that 
immediately after the invasion small paramilitary teams were 
organized by US and UK intelligence officers drawn from the 
personnel of the six major opposition parties in exile and tasked 
with pursuing a counterinsurgency program directed against 
opponents that included members of the Ba'ath Party. At the 
same time a vigorous policy of de-Ba'athification was pursued at 
a social/political level, presided over by one of the same parties 
involved in the counterinsurgency effort and involving armed de- 
Ba'athification teams. By the end of 2003 it was clear that dozens 
if not hundreds of Ba'ath Party members were being assassinated 
under an umbrella of total impunity. While we cannot conclusively 
prove that any of the agencies set up under British and American 
auspices are responsible for the killings or that the occupation 
authorities had approved of or directed such killings at any level, 
it seems nonetheless highly likely that both contentions hold true 
and this inference is strongly supported by the apparent total 
absence of investigation or preventative action. It is therefore 
worth remembering that a significant proportion of the murdered 
academics were members of the Ba'ath Party and that the infra- 
structure of clandestine violence created under the auspices of US 
intelligence is by far the most plausible candidate that we know 

Wiping the Slate Clean 181 

of for their murder and would satisfy the record of impunity that 

The End of History? 

Since the US-led invasion of 2003, two distinct patterns of killings 
of Iraqi academics have emerged: targeted assassinations and 
killings within detention. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that 
we are looking for more than a single agency at the level of 
intellectual authorship, as the two sets of crimes have more in 
common than not. Firstly, if we can assume that death threats are 
delivered by the same hand that guides the assassin's bullet, there 
is a demonstrable overlap between the motivation of the gunmen 
and at least some of those with the power to forcibly detain their 
victims: 146 both parties seem to wish to rid Iraq of groups or 
individuals that they have labeled as undesirables. Secondly, and 
even more importantly, both parties have been able to operate 
without restraint under the noses of those foreign forces that have 
assumed the responsibility (both moral and legal) for the safety 
and security of the civilian population. If we were to speculate 
about the reason for these differing methods, over and above the 
fact that several different groups might be carrying out the "dirty 
work," we could suggest that the apparent shift over time from 
targeted assassinations to killings within detention might imply: 
firstly, that the physical infrastructure, i.e. the necessary secret 
detention facilities such as Jadriya, has gradually expanded, 147 
making this second form of killing easier to achieve; secondly, 
that the list of targets was initially incomplete and that part of the 
process of continuing such intelligence-based purges is acquiring 
further data through capture and interrogation; 148 thirdly, that the 
immediate culprits may have shifted from teams of professional 
assassins to more formal security agents of the new state operating 
under an imposed counterinsurgency doctrine; 149 and, finally, that 
the message of terror and impunity spelled out by killings that 
take place out of sight may be deemed as more effective than 
that contained in the threat of instantaneous death. While such 
implications are indeed speculative, what is clear is that far from 

182 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

finding their operations more difficult to carry out, the killers have 
become more deeply physically entrenched within a flourishing 
culture of impunity. 

One further dimension to this second phenomenon of killings 
within detention is that it draws the purge of academics into 
the mainstream of Iraq's so-called "sectarian violence." Victims 
abducted by pa ra m i I i ta ry u nits from the Ministry of Interior whose 
tortured bodies reappear days or weeks later are the hallmarks of 
the killings of the "Shia militias." 150 Yet there is very little in the 
way of indication that the killings of academics have followed 
a sectarian agenda, with victims belonging to both Sunni and 
Shia sects. If an ethno-sectarian dimension were to exist, it would 
almost certainly have to relate to the fact that a disproportionate 
number of the victims have been Iraqi Arabs, but it is inconceivable 
that Kurdish death squads could be conducting such a campaign 
across Iraq and the coincidence that various ethno-sectarian 
interest groups might be pursuing an essentially identical campaign 
strongly argues that a higher level of orchestration exists. 

Recently the legal group Public Interest Lawyers has been 
making a case for holding an independent inquiry into the deaths 
of a number of Iraqis purportedly within British custody. To 
establish the need for such an inquiry, Public Interest Lawyers 
does not need to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the 
British Army, merely to convincingly argue that the deaths were 
most likely to have taken place under British custody. 

If we were to apply a similar criteria to the killings of Iraqi 
academics we might start from two great axioms of deductive 
and inductive reasoning: firstly, that when we have ruled out the 
impossible, whatever remains, no matter how unlikely, must be 
the truth, and secondly, that, all other things being equal, the 
simplest solution is the best. It is the first of these axioms that must 
sway us from hasty or generalized prognoses, but it is the second 
that should guide the order of any investigation. In mainstream 
Western narrative these fundamental axioms have been utterly 
disregarded. In the almost random allegations that have been cited 
or suggested, the authors have dispensed with the most basic, 

Wiping the Slate Clean 183 

obvious and simplest of all solutions, not because it is impossible, 
but because it appears to be impossible to mention. 

The starting point for any investigation into the killings of Iraqi 
academics, which began with the illegal invasion and occupation 
of a sovereign nation by British and American forces, is with 
those forces and their political leaders themselves. If we began 
our investigation from this starting point, we would find that 
our very own representatives had systematically set about the 
creation of paramilitary outfits designed to fight a war in the 
shadows against opponents designated as belonging to a specific 
political background that overlaps with the identity of at least a 
proportion of the murdered academics. We would find that certain 
shadowy paramilitary or militia organizations with links to the de- 
Ba'athification process, as well as an array of political murders in 
the case of Tha'r Allah, appear to have been groomed or nurtured 
by the hidden hand of our occupation. We would find that not 
only had our representatives systematically failed to prevent these 
killings or apprehend the assassins, but that in several important 
cases where thorough and proper investigation might have 
revealed a great deal about the authors and mechanisms of these 
crimes, our representatives have shown no interest in establishing 
even rudimentary and transparent inquiries. 

These key facts demonstrate that the US and UK established the 
forces that offer by far the most likely means for the killings. 151 
They are also the only actors realistically capable of creating 
the culture of impunity that has shielded these killings and that, 
along with the intelligence-gathering apparatus that they have 
maintained control of, 1S2 provides the most likely opportunity 
for the killings. These two factors alone are more than sufficient 
to satisfy the criterion that Public Interest Lawyers is attempting 
to reach in the killings mentioned above. However, as we must 
also conclude, it is the US and the UK that have the most likely 
motive. The fact that they have taken no effective action to stem 
the killings of Iraqi academics or to apprehend their killers is 
compelling evidence that establishing a free and democratic society 
in Iraq was never their aim. Whilst we may speculate about any 

184 Cultural Clean; 

wider geopolitical objectives, we can be concrete about at least 
one of their chief aims. 

Quite outside the bounds of international law, the Coalition 
Provisional Authority imposed a new series of laws for Iraq, 
subsequently enshrined in a constitution presented under 
conditions of war and foreign military occupation, that set out 
the transformation of Iraqi society into a model of neo-liberal 
economic design. 153 Within this paradigm it must be suspected 
that Iraqi academics, immersed in the experience of decades of 
a centralized welfare state, are likely to constitute one among 
many poles of opposition. That this is the case is spelt out no 
better than in the creation of an American University on Iraqi soil, 
whose object is to train a future generation of administrators; the 
existing generation is quite simply redundent. 154 For the immediate 
future, decimating Iraq's professional middle class ensures that 
the country remains dependent on US and other foreign expertise, 
providing a powerful means of political leverage. 

Beyond this, Iraq's secular academic institutions represent a 
backbone of the nation in the face of federalism and potential 
partition along ethno-sectarian lines that were entrenched within 
the opposition parties in exile prior to the invasion. 155 That a 
proportion of the violence directed against academics is veiled 
in the trappings of Islamic fundamentalism, whether Sunni or 
Shi'ite, does nothing to diminish its utility in the deconstruc- 
tion of the institutions of the former state and the fact that 
most of the victims have come from Iraq's three foremost 
universities, corresponding with the three major political centers 
of contemporary Iraq, strongly implies a hegemonic political 
agenda underscores the campaign. 

The counter argument to such motivations is that, even if their 
motives might have been cynical, it must surely be in the interests of 
the US and UK to establish stability for the purposes of investment. 
But in the short term there are vast profits to be made from ongoing 
cycles of reconstruction and private military contracts; 156 in the 
long term the goal of conquest is the imposition of hegemony: 
domination that extends from force-escalation superiority and 
economic subjugation, 157 all the way to a monopoly on the very 

Wiping the State Clean 185 

thoughts that shape society and create politi 
With its new-found "freedom," Iraq, in common with so many 
of the world's nations, has not reached the end of history, but 
has begun a new and painful period of struggle in which it finds 
that its oppressors are those with the motive, the means and the 
opportunity for ruthless pursuit of their own interests. 

See BRussells Tribunal, "List of Killed, Threatened or Kidnapped 

Iraqi Academics," hup://\v\vw. 

htm, accessed December 2008. 

Annia Ciezadlo, "Death to Those Who Dare to Speak Out," 

Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2004, http://www.csmonitor. 

com/2004/0430/plls01-woiq.html, accessed December 2008. 

Ahmed Janabi, "Iraqi Intellectuals Appeal for Security," Al Jazeera, 

May 19, 2004, 

Dossier.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

Tabitha Morgan, "Murder of Lecturers Threatens Iraqi Academia, " 

Times Higher Educatit m Supplement, September 10, 2004, http:// uk/story.asp?storyCode= 1 9 1 084& 

sectioncode=26, accessed December 2008. 

Ahmed Janabi, "Iraqi Intellectuals Flee 'Death Squads'," Al 

Jazeera, March 30, 2004, 

AcademicsDossier.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

For instance, the Brookings Institution estimates that some 2,000 

of the 34,000 physicians present in Iraq before the war have been 

killed,, accessed 

December 2008. 

Alan Sipress, "Iraqis Exact Revenge on Baathists," Washington 

Post, December 20, 2003, 

wp-dyn/A16407-2003Decl9, accessed December 2008. 

Zaineb Naji, "Iraq's Scholars Reluctant to Return," Iraq 

Crisis Report No. 243, January 18, 2008, http://www.iwpr. 

net/?p=icr&s=f&o=342062&apc_state=heniicr2008, accessed 

December 2008. 

Andrew Rubin, "The Slaughter of Iraq's Intellectuals," New 

Statesman, September 6, 2004, http://www.newstatesman. 

com/200409060018, accessed December 2008. 

Amal Hamdan, "Iraqi Intellectuals Under Siege," Al Jazeera, 

February 27, 2004, 

AcademicsDossier.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

186 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Lucy Hodges, "Iraq's Universities are in Meltdown," Independent, 

December 7, 2006, 

higher/iraqs-universities-are-in-meltdown-4273 16.html, accessed 

December 2008. 

Francis Beckett, "Professors in Penury," Guardian, December 

12, 2006, 

story/0,1969718,00.html, accessed December 2008. 

In July 2008, the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights claimed that 340 

academics had been killed between 2005 and 2007. Although it 

demanded strict anonymity with regard to sourcing, it insisted it 

keeps verified information on every individual case and added that 

the Iraqi government and US occupation authorities have refused to 

investigate any of the cases. Azzaman, "340 Academics and 2,334 

Women Killed in 3 Years, Human Rights Ministry Says," July 2, 


07-2008&article=33196, accessed December 2008. 

Dr. Jalili's analysis of named cases was undertaken in April 2006 

based on lists compiled by the Iraqi Teachers Association, the 

BRusselk Tribunal, and data presented at the Madrid International 

Conference on the Assassinations of Iraqi Academics, April 23-24, 

2006, as well as feedback from various Iraqi academics and 

medics. See Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact and Implications, June 

15, 2007, 


The latest survey of Iraqi civilian casualties was conducted by 

Opinion Research Business (ORB). For their January 2008 

updated figures, visit: 

New_Casualty_Tabs.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

These descriptions are drawn from the database of the BRussells 


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by Assassins," Asia Times, March 3, 2006, http://www.atimes. 

com/atimes/Middle_East/HC03Ak01.html, accessed December 


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murderl2285.html, accessed December 2008. 

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of," posted on the Free Iraq blogspot, February 17, 2006, http://, accessed 

December 2008. 

Wiping the Slate Clean 187 

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accessed December 2008. 

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Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

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Wiping the Slate Clean 189 

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190 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

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clearly between representatives of humanitarian non-governmental 
organizations and members of the various armed forces. In relation 
to distinguishing the identities of various armed groups, many of 
whom may be out of uniform or deliberately attempting to conceal 
their official identity, it must be imagined that the problem is even 
more extreme. This is in no way to impugn the faculties of the 
Iraqi observers, but to highlight a problem of identification and 
recording that is likely to be drastically exacerbated in zones of 
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Wiping the Slate Clean 191 

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72. Julian Borger, "Israel Trains US Assassination Squads in Iraq," 
Guardian, December 9, 2003, 
world/2003/dec/09/iraq.israel, accessed December 2008. 

73. Sarah Olmstead, "Emerging Issue: Iraqi Scientists Under Attack," 
Report on Science and Human Rights, Fall/Winter 2005, Vol. XXV, 
No. 2, American Association for the Advancement of Science,, accessed December 

74. Ahmed Janabi, "Everyone is a Target in Iraq," Al Jazeera, 
September 21, 2005, 
demicsDossier.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

75. Eventually, the evidence for involvement by Interior Ministry 
forces in these killings became so overwhelming, (see for example 
John E Burns, "Police in Spotlight after Suffocation Deaths," San 
Diego Union Tribune, July 14, 2005, http://www.signonsandiego. 
com/uniontrib/20050714/news_lnl4suffocat.html, accessed 
December 2008) that the majority of commentators, rather than 
ask hard questions about British and American responsibility 
for the institution that they had built from scratch, concluded 
that Badr had thoroughly infiltrated the ministry. There remains 
no substantial evidence that Badr controls this ministry, several 
of whose most senior officers are former military defectors and 
which continues to include a substantial presence of British and 
American advisors. For US presence within the Interior Ministry, 
see John F. Burns, "To Halt Abuses, U.S. will Inspect Jails Run 
by Iraq," New York Times, December 14, 2005, http://www. 
html?_r=l, accessed December 2008; and Solomon Moore, 
"Police abuses in Iraq detailed," Los A ngeles Times, July 9, 2006, 
0709policeabuses.htm, accessed December 2008. 

76. Gettleman, "The Struggle for Iraq: Killings; Assassinations Tear 
into Iraq's Educated Class." 

192 Cultural Cle 

77. Lucy Hodges, "It's a Crisis Like That of the 1930s," Independent, 
December 7, 2007, http://findarticles.eom/p/articles/mi_qn4158/ 
is_20061207/ai_nl6894379, accessed December 2008. 

78. Zvika Krieger, "Iraq's Endangered Schools," NewsWeek, August 
20-27, 2007,, accessed 
December 2008. 

79. Ralph Peters, "Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would 
Look," Armed Forces Journal, June 2006, http://www.armed-, accessed December 2008. 

80. Leslie H. Gelb, "The Three-state Solution," New York Times, 
November 25, 2003,, 
accessed December 2008. 

81. Mark LeVine, "The New Creative Destruction," Asia Times 
Online, August 22, 2006, lmp:// 
East/HH22 Ak01.html, accessed December 2008. 

82. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The C,k ' • / oa 
American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, Basic Books, 

83. Since the time of first draft, a similar case has emerged in Sweden, 
where Dr. Haider Al-Juboori, a lecturer in engineering at Al- 
Nahrain Uiversity is claiming asylum following his detention 
and torture after seizure by members of the Interior Ministry's 
elite counterinsurgency police commando force. Dr. Al-Juboori 
was eventually released after payment of a large ransom, but 
was warned to leave the country forthwith on pain of death. 
The BRussells Tribunal is following the development of Dr. Al- 
Juboori's case. 

84. Max Fuller, "Ghosts oi Jadiriyah," RRussells Tribunal, November 
14, 2006,, 
accessed December 2008. 

85. See, for example, "Iraq Officials Acknowledge New Detainee 
Abuse, Prime Minister Pledges Investigation," CNN, November 
15, 2005, 
main/index.html, accessed December 2008. 

86. See for example "Iraq Detainees 'Found Starving'," BBC News, 
November 16, 2005, 
east/4440134.stm and Edward Wong, "U.S. Splits with Iraqi 
Official over Prisoner Abuse," New York Times, November 
17, 2005, 
middleeast/17cnd-Iraq.html?_r=l, accessed December 2008. 

87. Even Bayan Jabr, the then Minister of the Interior, claims to have 
never received a copy of the report. PBS interview, November 

Wiping the Slate Clean 193 

21, 2006, 
interviews/jabr.html, accessed December 2008. 

88. Jim Muir, "Abuse Reports Fuel Iraqi Tensions," BBC News, 
November 16, 2005, 
east/4443 126.stm, accessed December 2008. 

89. UNAMI Human Rights Report 1 July - 31 August 2006, p. 17, Report July August 2006 
EN.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

90. Testimony of Abbas Abid in Kuala Lumpur, February 7, 2007, - Abbas, 
accessed December 2008. 

91. Paul Schemm, "Five Police Chiefs Arrested After Mass 
Kidnapping,", November 15, 2006, http://www.,23599,20761611-401,00.html, accessed 
December 2008. 

92. "Twin Blasts 'Kill 27' in Baghdad," BBC News, July 27, 2006,, 
accessed December 2008. 

93. Kim Sengupta, "Desperate Search After Mass-kidnapping of Sunnis 
Ends With Hostages Found Alive," Independent, November 15, 
hostages-found-alive-424342.html, accessed December 2008. 

94. "Iraq Hostages 'Freed by Police'," BBC News, November 15, 
accessed December 2008. 

95. "Iraq Ministry Hostages 'Tortured'," BBC News, November 16, 
accessed December 2008. 

96. BassemMroue, "Arrest of Sunni Leader Sought in Iraq," Washington 
Post, November 17, 2006, 
dyn/content/article/2006/1 1/1 6/AR20061 11600494_2.html, 
accessed December 2008. 

97. Ibid. 

98. UNAMI Human Rights Report 1 November -31 December 2006, 
p. 10. 

99. "Iraq Police Rebrand to Foil Fakes," BBC News, October 9, 
stm, accessed December 2008. 

100. For instance, the New Statesman reported in September 2004, 
well after the purge of academics had become extremely visible 
and shortly after the transfer of sovereignty, that the Coalition 
Provisional Authority had neither investigated any of the deaths, 

194 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

nor made a single arrest, and dismissed the matter as "obscure" 
( A similar point 
was iterated by Issam al Rawi, head of the Association of University 
Teachers, in the same month, who stated that, "We don't know 
who is threatening us, but we do know that when we report killings 
and kidnappings those responsible are never found" (http://www. In fact, Brigadier 
General Kimmit, a spokesman for the occupation forces, had 
confessed in February 2004 that the military was not involved in 
any investigations, but assured that advisors from the FBI were 
helping to train Iraqi detectives. However, Iraqi policemen, left to 
investigate organized political killings, reported having received 
no help from American advisors ( 
By March 2006 the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific 
Research stated that 89 university professors and senior lecturers 
had been killed since 2003 and that police investigations had led 
to nothing ( 
jonathansteele). All websites accessed December 2008. 

101. Jeffrey Sluka (ed.), Death Squad: The Anthropology of State 
Terror, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. 

102. Turi Munthe, "Will Harsh Weed-out Allow Iraqi Academia to 
Flower?" Times Education Supplement, July 25, 2003, http:// 
&sectioncode=26, accessed December 2008 

103. UNESCO and Education in IRAQ Fact Sheet, March 28, 2003, 
DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html, accessed December 

104. Christina Asquith, "Turning the Page on Iraq's History," Christian 
Science Monitor, November 4, 2003, http://www.csmonitor. 
com/2003/1 104/pl ls01-legn.html, accessed December 2008. 

105. Fuller, "Ghosts of Jadiriyah." Dr. Samarree's first-hand account 
is reinforced in an SOS issued by "frantic" Iraqi academics very 
early in the occupation, which describes US soldiers transporting 
"mobs" to scientific institutions to commit damage and remove 
documents. See http://www.islamonline/net/englishnews/2003- 
04/12/article02.shtml. Such mobs are likely to have been formed 
from the militias of the opposition parties in exile. 

106. Coalition Provisional Authority, "Order Number 1: De- 
Ba'athificaiton of Iraqi Society," http://www.iraqcoalition. 
Iraqi_Society_.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

Wiping the Slate Cle 

107. Susan Sachs, "A Region Inflamed: Occupation; Baathists, Once 
Reviled, Prove Difficult to Remove," New York Times, November 
22, 2003, 
E0DA123BF931A15752C1A9659C8B63, accessed December 

108. Robert Dreyfuss, "Tinker, Banker, Neocon, Spy: Ahmed Chalabi's 
Long and Winding Road from (and to?) Baghdad," American 
Prospect, November 18, 2002, 
articles?article=tinker_banker_neocon_spy, accessed December 

109. Munthe, "Will Harsh Weed-out Allow Iraqi Academia to 

110. Scott Peterson, "Iraqis Struggle Over Baath Purge," Christian 
Science Monitor, June 26, 2003, http://www.csmonitor. 
com/2003/0626/p06s01-woiq.html, accessed December 2008. 

111. Hamdan, "Iraqi Intellectuals Under Siege." 

112. See, for example, Michael Howard, "Mr Fixit Finds His Vision 
Hard to Sell," Guardian, July 1, 2003,, accessed December 

1 13. Turi Munthe, "Diary: A Weeklong Electronic Journal,", 
July 8, 2003,, 
accessed December 2008. 

114. Munthe, "Will Harsh Weed-out Allow Iraqi Academia to 

115. Munthe, "Diary: A Weeklong Electronic Journal." 

116. Alan Sipress, "Iraqis Exact Revenge on Baathists," Wa < 
Post, December 20, 2003, 
wp-dyn/A16407-2003Decl9, accessed December 2008. 

117. Tom Lasseter, "Civilian Violence in Iraq up Sharply since Hussein's 
Capture," Knight Ridder, December 22, 2003, http://www. ?file=/headlines03/1222- 
Ol.htm, accessed December 2008. 

118. Joel Brinkley, "Revenge Killings Thin ex-Baathists' Ranks," New 
York Times, November 1, 2003, 
article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/ll/01/MNGPP2O72Bl.DTL, accessed 
December 2008. 

119. "Iraq: Killings of Civilians in Basra and al-'Amara," Amnesty 
International, May 11, 2004, 
info/MDE14/007/2004, accessed December 2008. 

120. While no accurate figures are available, several commentators 
have claimed that a high proportion of senior academics were 
party members. For instance, Robert Fisk states that "all heads of 

196 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

academic departments were forced to join Saddam's party" (http:// 
in-murder-spree-553078.html), while Andrew Rubin writes 
that "former Ba'ath Party members make up the vast majority 
of professors in postwar Iraq" (http://www.newstatesman. 
com/200409060018). Andrew Erdmann himself believed that 
over half of all department heads and the large majority of deans 
were Ba'athists ( 
asp?storyCode=178316&sectioncode=26). In this context it is 
worth emphasizing that many of the academics on the BT list held 
senior university posts (according to Ismael Jalili some 19 percent 
of all murdered academics held the post of department head or 
higher, while professors and assistant professors make up a further 
59 percent of all victims - Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact and 
Implications, June 15, 2007). It seems very possible that at least 
half of all academic victims were members of the Ba'ath Party. 

121. Ahmed Rasheed, "Iraq Lawon Baathists Not Being Implemented," 
Reuters, June 17, 2008, 
idUSYAT251579, accessed December 2008. 

122. Seymour M. Hersh, "Moving Targets," New Yorker, December 15, 
fact, accessed December 2008. 

123. These parties included the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Iraqi 
Accord (INA), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq 
(SCIRI) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic 
Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In fact, it was reported that the US 
had been training the militias associated with each of these parties 
prior to the invasion at a military base in Hungary. "Iraqi Exiles to 
Gather in Hungary for U.S. Military Training," Chicago Tribune, 
January 20, 2003, 
iraq2.htm, accessed December 2008. It is hardly surprising that 
these militias should have been earmarked to provide the nucleus 
for the new security apparatus. 

124. "US Decides to Back Iraqi Militia Force," Sydney Mori ■ ■ 11 i lid 
November 6, 2003, 
1068013265653.html, accessed December 2008. 

125. Dana Priest and Josh White, "Before the War, CIA Reportedly 
Trained a Team of Iraqis to Aid U.S.," Washington Post, August 
3, 2005, 
article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201579.html, accessed December 

126. Hannah Allam and Warren P. Strobel, "Amidst Doubts, CIA 
Hangs on to Control of Iraqi Intelligence Service," Knight Ridder, 

Wiping the Slate Cle 

September 5, 2005, 
article8792.htm, accessed December 2008. 

127. Ibid. 

128. The doctrine of counterinsurgeny warfare actually assumes that 
the "insurgent" enemy has a duel character, in that it is always 
characterized both by armed militants and a cellular civilian infra- 
structure (historically, often a communist party). It is the civilian 
infrastructure that is assumed both to coordinate the military 
struggle and to pursue the same political objectives (overthrow 
of the state) by other means. Under the doctrine, this civilian 
support base subsumes virtually any and all political or rights- 
based activities that could be interpreted as anti-government, 
from trades unionists to protest singers (Appendix E: Intelligence 
Indicators, US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual FMI 
The destruction of this infrastructure is actually seen as a higher 
priority than the elimination of the armed cells (US Special Forces 
counterinsurgency manual FM 31-20-3, 
US_Special_Forces_counterinsurgency_manual_leaked). It is not 
difficult to see how members of the Ba'ath Party or dissenting 
academics could thus be identified as military targets. A detailed 
analysis of how such a program aimed at a civilian infrastructure 
evolved in practice is offered in Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix 
Program,, 2000. 

129. Iraqi Leadership Council statement, May 23, 2003, http://www. php?t=19733, accessed December 

130. Mukhtar, "Where Is This Going?" 

131. Scott Wilson, "Chalabi Aides Suspected of Spying for Iran," 
Washington Post, May 22, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost. 
com/wp-dyn/articles/A46417-2004May21.html, accessed 
December 2008. 

132. '"I Made a Choice to Visit a Country'," New York Sun, October 
5, 2004,, accessed December 
2008; "Iraq Easing Bans on Saddam-era Baath Members," Reuters, 
January 18, 2007, 
article/13610, accessed December 2008. 

133. Kathleen Ridolfo, "A Survey of Armed Groups in Iraq," Radio 
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 4, 2004 (the ULR of this article 
is no longer valid; a version of the same document can be found 
on Global Security, but the original reference to Tha'r Allah 
has been split into a nondescript sentence on Tha'r Allah and a 
separate entry for "Vengeance Detachments" containing all the 

198 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

information originally attributed to Tha'r Allah. The version of 
the document that I first saw can still be obtained as a PDF from Whilst the original document is dated 
June 4, 2004, the PDF was created on June 11, 2005, which 
may suggest that the document was altered after that date,, accessed 
December 2008.) 

134. Omar Hasan, "Al-Qaeda Scare has Basra on Edge," Agence 
France-Presse, November 12, 2003, 
313578161621&set_id=l, accessed December 2008. 

135. Jack Fairweather, "Islamic Groups' Rise May Lead to Greater 
Conflict," Telegraph, April 7, 2004, 
may-lead-to-greater-conflict.html, accessed December 2008. 

136. According to Michael Knights and Ed Williams, it appears that 
al-Musawi was actually serving as Basra's deputy governor in 
February and, by implication, probably at least as far back as 
early 2006 (The Calm Before the Storm: The British Experience 
in Southern Iraq, Policy Focus 66, Washington Institute for Near 
East Policy, February 2007, p. 30, http://www.washingtoninstitute. 
org/pubPDFs/PolicyFocus66.pdf). In fact, al-Musawi is recorded 
as having been included on Basra's Security Council (Provincial 
Politics in Iraq c / ' < nmg ? , Michael 
Knights and Eamon McCarthy, Policy Focus 81, Washington 
Institute for Near East Policy, April 2008, p. 5, http://www., which 
undoubtedly would have included British and probably American 
representatives. In counterinsurgency warfare, security committees 
at local, regional and national levels are deemed to be the necessary 
locus for orchestrating a strategy that is intended to draw in every 
sphere of the state (for detailed discussions of counterinsurgency in 
theory and practice, see Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations: 
Subversion, Insui enn • id T ' icekeepin \ F ibi i indFaber, 1991, 
and Valentine, The Phoenix Program). 

137. Jack Fairweather and Haider Samad, " Clerics Become Powerbrokers 
in the South," Telegraph, February 14, 2005, http://www.telegraph. 
powerbrokers-in-the-South.html, accessed December 2008. 

138. "Supervisory Commission to Control Checkpoints," Al-Sabah, 
January 16, 2005, p. 3, 

Wiping the Slate Clean 199 

Scsid=f92ec77b2b38c3306dfd4d592a504886, accessed December 

139. James Hider, "US Reporter Murdered in Iraq Had Written 
His Own Epitaph," The Times, August 4, 2005, http://www., 7374-1720268, 00. html, accessed 
December 2008. 

140. Special Report: Tc < / irding Hnma r / , i 
Monitoring of Human Rights in Iraq, April 8, 2006, http://www., accessed December 

141. Michael Moss, "How Iraq Police Reform Became Casualty of 
War," New York Times, May 22, 2006, http://www.nytimes. 
com/2006/05/22/world/middleeast/22security.html?, accessed 
December 2008. 

142. "Iraqi secret police force operating in Al-Basrah," Radio Free 
Europe/Radio Liberty, January 30, 2004, http://www.ecoi. 
secret-service.htm, accessed December 2008. 

143. Moss, "How Iraq Police Reform Became Casualty of War." 

144. "Death Squad Killings on the Rise in Basra," Gulf Times, 
February 18, 2006, 
article. asp?cu_no=2&item_no=73241&version=l&template_ 
id=37&parent_id=17, accessed December 2008. 

145. Brinkley, "Revenge Killings Thin ex-Baathists' Ranks." 

146. The insistence that kidnapping (abduction) itself represents a form 
of criminality that lies outside the operation of state terror is 
contradicted both by the experience and theory of counterinsurgency 
warfare. For instance a 1962 US Army psychological operations 
field manual (FM 33-5) stated: "Civilians in the operational area 
may be supporting their own government or collaborating with an 
enemy occupation force. An isolation program designed to instill 
doubt and fear may be carried out, and a positive political action 
program designed to elicit active support of the guerrillas also 
may be effected. If these programs fail, it may become necessary 
to take more aggressive action in the form of harsh treatment 
or even abductions. The abduction and harsh treatment of key 
enemy civilians can weaken the collaborators' belief in the strength 
and power of their military forces. This approach, fraught with 
propaganda and political dangers, should be used only after all 
other appeal means have failed. And when used, they [sic] must be 
made to appear as though initiated and effected by the guerrillas 
themselves to reduce the possibility of reprisals against civilians" 
(Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft: US Guerrilla 

200 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Warfare, Countc it r and Com i 1940-1 "", 


147. Peter Beaumont, "Revealed: Grim World of New Iraqi Torture 
Camps," Observer, July 3, 2005, 
world/2005/jul/03/iraq.peterbeaumont, accessed December 

148. Professor Samarree stated that the purpose of the interrogation 
sessions that he underwent was to acquire further information 
about members of the Ba'ath Party (personal communication). 

149. As noted above, the strategy of counterinsurgency itself is likely 
to designate many individuals who would normally consider 
themselves outside a military conflict as "subversives" and 
therefore as legitimate military targets. This strategy has been 
even more baldly stated by members of the US military-intelligence 
apparatus themselves, who have suggested that the "Sunni [civilian] 
population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the 
terrorists... We have to change that equation" (quoted in Tom 
Regan, "US Considers Salvador Option in Iraq," Christian Science 
Monitor, January 10, 2005, 
dailyUpdate.html) and that "In almost any counter-insurgency, the 
basic message the government or the occupiers tries to get across 
to the population is brutally simple: 'We can protect you from 
the guerrillas, but the guerrillas can't protect you from us, and 
you've got to choose sides'." (Christopher Dickey, "Death-Squad 
Democracy," Newsweek Web Exclusive, October 16, 2007, http:// 

150. The outgoing United Nations human rights chief in Iraq, John Pace, 
stated that the majority of extrajudicial killings were being carried 
out by "militias" attached to the Interior Ministry (Democracy 
Now! Interview with John Pace, http://www.democracynow. 
org/2006/2/28/exclusive_former_un_human_rights_chief), while 
the Iraqi Organization for Follow-up and Monitoring, in a 
statement published on April 30, 2006, claimed that 92 percent of 
3,498 bodies found in different regions of Iraq belonged to victims 
that had been arrested by officials of the Ministry of Interior 

151. The fact that what slim evidence exists suggests an Iraqi hand 
behind the killings of academics does nothing to discredit the 
thesis that the occupying powers should be held intellectually 
responsible for these crimes. It is standard procedure to draw the 
bulk of the various "special operations" groups that carry out the 
so-called "dirty work" from indigenous "host nation" elements, 
whether they be existing members of the security forces, recruits in 

Wiping the Slate Clean 201 

private armies, former enemy combatants or sentenced criminals. 
As well as expanding manpower, one of the main advantages 
of employing local forces is maintaining plausible deniability 
by placing the maximum distance between the actions and their 
authorship. Maintaining plausible deniability is also standard 
operating procedure at the level of command responsibility, 
where the use of cut-outs and front organizations is cultivated to 
further displace responsibility (Philip Agee, CIA Diary: Inside the 
Company, Penguin Books, 1975, http://www.thirdworldtraveler. 
com/CIA/CIA_Diary _Agee.html). For an example of this process 
in action, see Douglas Valentine's detailed expose of the CIA- 
controlled Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, The Phoenix Program. 
Thus in Iraq, we should ad ually expect to find violence conducted 
by a range of "militia" elements, many of whose operatives may be 
completely unaware of the agenda they are ultimately serving. 

152. As described earlier, the targeted assassinations of academics 
appear to be based on thorough knowledge of the victim and 
his or her movements and routine. The physical infrastructure 
required to conduct such intelligence-based operations lies at 
the heart of counterinsurgency warfare and, with its network of 
agents and informers, surveillance hardware, computer databases, 
individual target files, etc., lies beyond the means of ad hoc and 
dispersed groups (see, for example, McClintock, Instruments of 
Statecraft). In the end it matters far less which groups, whether 
they be criminal gangs, fundamentalist militias, mercenaries or 
disguised special forces personnel, carry out the killings, but 
from where the detailed intelligence and overarching planning is 

153. Aaron Mate, "Pillage is Forbidden: Why the Privatisation of Iraq 
is Illegal," Guardian, November 7, 2003,, accessed December 

154. Edward Wong, "An American University for Iraq but not in 
Baghdad," New York Times, January 3, 2007, http://www. 
r=l&oref=slogin, accessed December 2008. The university, 
situated at Sulaymania, in the Kurdish part of Iraq, is now 
enrolling students; the first point in its mission statement reads: 
"to promote the development and prosperity of Iraq through 
the careful study of modern commerce, economics, business and 
public administration." 

202 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Ian Urbin, "Kurds Vow: '10,000 Men in Baghdad'," Asia Times, 
December 17, 2002, 
DL17Ak01.html, accessed December 2008. 
Aseem Shrivastava, "The Iraq War is a Huge Success: The 
Economics of Creative Destruction," Information Clearing 
House, July 29, 2006, http://www.informationclearinghouse. 
info/articlel4267.htm, accessed December 2008. 
In June 2008 it was reported that the Iraqi government has struck 
deals with the four oil majors (Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and 
BP) that had formed the original consortium evicted from Iraq in 
1972. The new deals, displacing Russian and Chinese competition, 
whilst small, are seen as a very viable foot in the door to the 
enormous oil bonanza that lies ahead (Andrew E. Kramer, "Deals 
With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back," New York Times, 
June 19, 2008). 



Dahr Jamail 

Apocalypse is not a moment. Five years of the US led invasion 
and occupation defines Apocalypse in Iraq, where spring 2003 
to spring 2008 has been an unrelieved season of destruction, 
death and displacement, with no end in sight. The country has 
witnessed the decimation of natural and economic resources, 
infrastructure, rule of law, and everything that makes human 
existence worthwhile. Abduction and indiscriminate killings of 
civilians, and highly orchestrated ethnic and sectarian cleansing 
have jointly rendered the country unlivable. A state of explosive 
anarchy prevails. 

A particularly disconcerting facet of this all-encompassing 
disaster is the targeting of Iraq's intellectuals and professionals. 
They have been subjected to systemic persecution and elimination. 
The fortunate ones have met with displacement and those that had 
the wherewithal have been compelled to leave the country. 

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, in collaboration 
with Iraqi doctors from Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, 
published a study in the Lancet medical journal in October 2006 
that estimated 655,000 Iraqi deaths, or 2.5 percent of the total 
population of Iraq, to be the direct result of the US led invasion 
and occupation. The UK-based polling agency Opinion Research 
Business updated the figure in September 2007, to a staggering 1.2 
million. Currently, the advocacy group Just Foreign Policy also 
estimates the number of Iraqi dead to be over 1.1 million. 1 

One in five Iraqis has been displaced primarily due to violence. 
According to the UN Refugee Agency and the International 

204 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Organization for Migration, by 2008, the fifth year of occupation, 
over 5 million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their 
country. Refugees International reveals that: 

Over 2.4 million vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, up to 1.5 
million were living in Syria, and over 1 million refugees were inhabiting 
Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf States. Most Iraqis are 
keen to be resettled in Europe or North America, and few consider return 
to Iraq an option. Iraqis have no legal work options in most host countries 
and are increasingly desperate and in need of humanitarian assistance. 
They face challenges in finding housing, obtaining food, and have trouble 
accessing health and education systems in these host countries. Their 
resources depleted, small numbers of Iraqis have returned to Iraq in the 
past few months, between 28,000 to 60,000 people, but Iraq's struggling 
government recently warned that it cannot accommodate large numbers of 
returns. Most of those who returned were subsequently displaced again. 2 

Brain Drain 

Spokesmen for the Royal Society of London coined the term "brain 
drain" to describe the outflow of scientists and technologists from 
the UK to Canada and the United States in the early 1950s. Brain 
drain occurs when individuals who study abroad do not return to 
their home country on completing their education. Recent reports 
show that roughly 80 percent of all Fulbright Scholars do not 
return to their country of origin. It also occurs when individuals 
educated in their home country emigrate for higher wages or 
better opportunities. The second form is arguably worse, because 
it drains more resources from the home country and is particularly 
problematic for developing nations. 

The phenomenon is also known as human capital flight, as 
it entails the emigration of trained and talented individuals or 
"human capital" to other nations or jurisdictions, due to conflicts, 
lack of opportunity, health hazards or other reasons. It parallels 
the term "capital flight" which refers to financial capital that is 
no longer invested in the country where its owner has lived and 

Death, Displacement, or Flight 205 

earned the money. Investment in higher education is also lost 
when trained individuals leave their home country. 

Brain drain is common to all conflicts but is currently most 
widespread in Iraq where professional certification at a higher 
level is viewed as one of the few means to escape the war-torn 
country with life and limb intact. It began during the early 
days of the occupation. In May 2003, the Bush administration 
established the Coalition Provisional Authority inside the "Green 
Zone" in Baghdad under the control of L. Paul Bremer III, who 
formerly worked for Kissinger and Associates. This body set about 
dismantling Iraq's state apparatus. Thousands of Ba'ath Party 
bureaucrats were dismissed from the government; similar large 
numbers of Iraqi military personnel were discharged from their 
military positions, and countless workers were laid off from state- 
owned industries. This mass of freshly unemployed professional 
and state employees rapidly lost their purchasing power and Iraq's 
already devastated economy suffered further. Around the same 
time displacement began to escalate due to several reasons and 
brain drain was in full swing. 

Crime for Wage 

The exodus was prompted by an additional menace that came 
to haunt the educated middle class in Iraq at the time. This was 
kidnapping. Those of the professional category that did not flee 
the country sometimes undertook lesser jobs like driving taxis, 
often using their own cars for the purpose. Baghdad began to face 
this new threat which became a "hot job" amongst local gangs, 
foreign infiltrators, and others who realized that professionals in 
Iraq and their family members fetch the highest ransom. Doctors, 
professors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals became easy 
and immediate targets. The rate of departure of Iraqis fleeing their 
country accelerated as those who felt threatened fled. This forced 
exodus saw writers, doctors, scientists, engineers, poets, professors 
and other professionals and intellectuals flee the country. 

By early summer 2004, during and after massive US military 
operations that targeted portions of Baghdad and nearly the 

206 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

entire cities of Najaf, Kut, and Fallujah, many of Iraq's renowned 
doctors and professors had fled the country. An alarming number 
of others were assassinated. While no exact figures are available, 
it is known for a fact that a large percentage of Iraqis who fled the 
country at the time belonged to the professional classes, since they 
happened to have the resources to do so. By doing so they took 
their professional know-how with them, severely depleting the 
country of invaluable human capital. Universities and hospitals 
have borne the brunt of this, with many facilities now reportedly 
functioning with less than 20 percent of their minimum staff 
requirement. Even the coveted oil industry in Iraq suffered what 
the Wall Street Journal has referred to as a "petroleum exodus" 
wherein at least two-thirds of its top hundred managers along 
with large numbers of its managerial and professional workers 
have left Iraq. 

The sacred Shia shrine of al-Askari in Samarra was bombed 
on February 22, 2006. As a consequence of this act there was a 
dramatic upswing in sectarian violence. However, sectarian death 
squads began to appear in Baghdad while US ambassador to 
Iraq John Negroponte and a retired colonel, James Steele (who 
arrived in Baghdad shortly after the invasion of March 2003), 
held key positions, and US-backed Iraqi forces were involved in 
the process of "segregating" mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad. 
The Negroponte-Steele partnership goes back to their days in 
Central America in the 1980s when Negroponte was Reagan's 
ambassador to Honduras, at a time when right-wing death squads 
in the region were instrumental in killing thousands of innocent 
civilians. 3 Replicating the same policy in Iraq triggered another 
wave of immigration amongst professionals who, over and above 
other adversities, now had to contend with systemic sectarian 

Surge Purge 

In February 2007 the Bush administration launched a "surge" of 
US forces into Iraq, the stated goals of which were to bring down 
violence to enable the US backed puppet government in Baghdad 

to work towards reconciliation of the fragmented population of 
the country. 

The actual effect of the "surge" belies this intent. During 2007, 
merely 25 of approximately 200 mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad 
escaped becoming homogeneous. In all others residency came 
to be determined/permitted strictly on the basis of the Islamic 
sect that people professed. Minority groups were driven out of 
these mixed neighborhoods usually by US backed death squads 
or various militias. They either joined the ranks of the internally 
displaced people or became refugees in other countries. The Iraqi 
Red Crescent estimated that by late 2007, one out of every four 
residents had been displaced from their homes in Baghdad, a 
capital city of 6 million plus. As on earlier occasions, it was 
professionals that formed the largest numbers of those who moved 
to Syria or Jordan, taking not only their skills experience and 
expertise but also their savings and other resources which are 
critical to Iraq's future. 

Hard Times/Bleak Future 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
figures for Iraq as of January 2008 stand at over 1.5 million 
refugees in Syria alone, and at least 750,000 in Jordan. Other than 
these two countries which until recently had the most lenient visa 
requirements for Iraqis, there were as many as 70,000 refugees 
in Egypt, another 60,000 in Iran, 30,000 in Lebanon, roughly 
200,000 across the Gulf States, 100,000 across Europe, and 
roughly 50,000 spread across the globe. The American response 
beggars the imagination. From March 2003 up till mid-2007, 
the Bush administration had allowed a grand total of 463 Iraqis 
into the US. 4 

Again, while exact figures are unknown, a large percentage 
of all of these displaced Iraqis are educated and professionally 
skilled individuals who have no plans to return home. Many of 
them have been forced to take up menial jobs, usually in the black 
market, in order to tend to themselves and their families. It is 
now commonplace for unemployed scientists, engineers, surgeons 

208 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

and university professors to be driving taxis, selling vegetables 
and fruit and tea. This leaves little hope for those left behind and 
makes the future of the country appear bleak indeed. 

For most displaced Iraqis, procuring food has become a 
challenge. The UN has declared half of all displaced Iraqis in 
need of "urgent food assistance." A substantial portion of adults 
surveyed in early 2008 reported they were skipping at least one 
meal in order to be able to feed their children. Others report entire 
days without food "in order to keep up with rent and utilities." 

One fifth of Iraqi children in Syria had diarrhea in the two 
weeks prior to a McClatchy Newspaper survey in early 2008, 
and 46 percent of children had dropped out of school. With the 
younger generations exposed to this level of deprivation what may 
one envisage of Iraq's future, if there is ever to be reconstruction 
and resolution in Iraq? 

Syria presents the most accurate picture of how Iraq's 
professional, managerial and administrative sections have been 
negatively affected by the occupation. Of those that had the 
wherewithal to leave Iraq approximately one third possessed a 
university education. Collectively they form a repository of the 
"human capital" requisite for the reconstruction and restoration of 
their ravaged country but they are unlikely to return home, ever. 

While less than 1 percent of Iraqis left in the country have a 
postgraduate education, almost 10 percent of the refugees in Syria 
have advanced degrees, with 4.5 percent having doctorates. In 
addition, while 20 percent of Iraqis have no schooling, only 3 
percent of the refugees in Syria have had no education. 

It is not difficult to see what the US neo-liberal policy in Iraq, 
coupled with the disastrous de-Ba'athification strategy has done 
to the economy and the future of the country. It has sealed the 
fate of Iraq by ensuring the decimation, degradation and removal 
of Iraqis who could have salvaged some degree of order out of 
the present chaos in their nation. 

Underscoring the severity of the crisis, prior to the 2007 exodus 
from Baghdad, which was a direct result of the "surge," UNHCR 
issued a clear warning that "the skills required to provide basic 

Death, Displacement, or Flight 209 

services are becoming more and more scarce" in Iraq, referring 
particularly to doctors, teachers, computer technicians, and even 
skilled craftsmen like bakers and mechanics. 

By the middle of 2007, the catastrophic effects of the brain drain 
were evident for Iraqi society. Medical facilities were growing 
increasingly dependent on the services of the family members 
of patients as nurses, attendants and technicians. People being 
brought to the hospital had to be carried by relatives because 
individuals and equipment meant for transportation of patients 
were no longer at the disposal of hospitals. In the education sector, 
schools were often closed due to violence and militia activity, 
and qualified teachers had become scarce at every level ranging 
from grade schools to universities. Staff shortages of epidemic 
proportions have made a mockery of exams if they are conducted 
at all anywhere in the country. 

Permanently Disabled 

Pathetic as it may sound, the US-backed Iraqi government, which 
according to polls in Iraq enjoys less than 1 percent support from 
the population, is not equipped to tackle garbage collection and 
waste disposal predominantly due to lack of qualified professionals 
who can plan and execute these essential services and ensure the 
smooth functioning of a country's infrastructure. The adequate 
human resource simply does not exist in Iraq anymore. Iraqi 
cabinet ministers recently admitted to "a shortage of employees 
trained to write contracts" and also made mention of "the flight 
of scientific and engineering expertise from the country." 5 

The systematic destruction and elimination of Iraq's human 
capital has been nearly absolute and obviously deliberate. It has 
been accomplished through a systematic and irreversible process 
of liquidating the strongest and the most resourceful members 
of Iraqi society. 

The massive brain drain which has sucked the vast majority of 
Iraq's trained and highly skilled professionals out of the country 
is not likely to be reversed anytime soon as there seem to be no 

210 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

plans for a US withdrawal. The longer the occupation persists, 
the worse life becomes in Iraq. Without Iraq's human capital 
available, any talk of reconstruction, reconciliation, and a unified 
future for the country are utterly futile. It is no coincidence that 
the impossible prospect of Iraq rebuilding herself works in 
favor of the neo-liberal agenda of the United States. The raging 
catastrophe provides all the justification it needs for privatizing 
and outsourcing the country's reconstruction, security, and 
management of its oil sector. 

In the long run the death, displacement and deprivation of its 
professional class makes Iraq dependent on foreign countries and 
their interests. One small instance is the oil industry in southern 
Iraq presently being manned by engineers "imported from Texas 
and Oklahoma," according to the Wall Street Journal in late 
2007. According to Michael Schwartz, in his article "Iraq's Tidal 
Wave of Misery": 

The foreign presence had, in fact, become so pervasive that the main 
headquarters for the maintenance and development of the Rumaila oil 
field in southern Iraq (the source of more than two-thirds of the country's 
oil at present) runs on both Iraqi and Houston time. The American firms 
in charge of the field's maintenance and development, KBRand PIJV, have 
been utilizing a large number of subcontractors, most of them American 
or British, very few of them Iraqi. 6 

This trend has spilled into all of Iraq's crippled infrastructure 
areas, with unprecedented dependency on foreign assistance in the 
fields of medicine, food, electricity, the water system, agriculture, 
textiles, and much else. 

With over 4 million Iraqis displaced, over 1 million dead, untold 
numbers of wounded, and another 4 million in need of emergency 
assistance according to Oxfam International, the ability of Iraqi 
professionals to rebuild and lead their country seems remote, if 
not impossible. This dismemberment of the professional class 
will have permanent consequences as the spiral of dependence 
reinforces itself with the passage of time, exponentially deepening 
Iraq's inability for autonomy and self-rule. 

Death, Displacement, or Flight 211 


1. Tom Englehardt, "We Count, They Don't," TomDispatcb, October 2, 
2007, http://www.tomdispatch.eom/post/l 74844/having_a_carnage_ 
party, accessed December 2008. 

2. Refugees International, "Iraq," n.d., http://www.refugeesinternational. 
org/content/article/detail/9679, accessed December 2008. 

3. Dahr Jamail, "Negroponte and the Escalation of Death," Asia Times, 
January 11,2007. 

4. Jim Lobe, "Iraq Exodus Ends Four Year Decline in Refugees," 
Inter Press Service, June 14, 2007, 
asp?idnews=33613, accessed December 2008. 

5. James Glanz, "Provinces Use Rebuilding Money in Iraq," New York 
Times, October 1, 2007. 

6. Michael Schwarz, "Iraq's Tidal Wave of Misery," TomDispatcb, 
February 10, 2008. 



Philip Marfleet 

In the years following the invasion of 2003, Iraq's academics and 
professionals have continued to flee from the country. Refugee 
communities in Arab states receive thousands of university 
professors, medical doctors, dentists, artists, writers, journalists, 
teachers and technical experts. Among earlier forced migrants 
in cities such as Amman, Damascus, Cairo and Beirut few have 
returned to their former homes. The trajectory of many journeys 
is away from the region, notably to Europe and North America. 
In the spring of 2008 one advanced English-language class in 
Amman contained 45 young Iraqi doctors, all of whom had arrived 
in Jordan since the invasion; six months later all but three had 
moved to the United States. 2 Iraq's intellectuals have been scattered 
worldwide, making the prospect of return and reconsolidation 
of the country's academic, professional and technical cadres 
increasingly difficult, leaving a gaping hole in its human resources. 
A loss of this magnitude will certainly affect the wider society for 
generations to come. This chapter examines why and how these 
refugees have been compelled to leave Iraq and what their patterns 
of movement reveal about the regime of occupation. It suggests that 
their fate is not an accidental outcome of war and civil conflict: 
rather it is the result of strategies employed by the United States 
and its allies to establish a new order in Iraq and the region. 

The prevailing discourse of the refugee in the Global North 
identifies migrants from the Global South who wish for asylum 
as opportunistic, inauthentic, illicit and likely to be engaged 
in criminal activity. People from regions in which Islam is the 
dominant tradition are additionally under suspicion of bearing 

The Purging of Minds 213 

alien cultural influence. Their religious affiliation is judged to be 
part of a nexus of threats which must be tackled through regimes 
of exclusion. 3 In the case of Iraq, refugees are also seen as people 
contaminated by the conflicts from which they seek to flee. In 
effect, most governments in North America, Western Europe and 
Australasia have attempted to displace onto Iraqi refugees their 
own responsibility for the outcomes of invasion and occupation, 
notably acute need, social breakdown, communal violence, ethnic 
cleansing and mass population movements from and within the 
state. This has not prevented increasingly large numbers of Iraqis 
attempting to secure refugee status. According to the Office of 
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
in 2008 applications by Iraqis represented more than one in ten 
of all claims for refugee status in industrialized states. 4 During 
the first six months of 2008 their applications by far exceeded all 
other national groups seeking asylum. Indeed, the number seeking 
formal refugee status exceeded even the combined total of the 
second- and third-most important source countries. 5 This total 
was nonetheless a mere fraction of the number of Iraqis engaged 
in flight from their former homes. According to UNHCR, by 
September 2007 some 2.7 million people had been displaced within 
Iraq, and a further 2 million people had crossed Iraqi borders, 
the majority to neighboring Arab states in which they lived in 
large communities of "spontaneously" settled urban refugees, 
where most were viewed officially as "visitors" or "guests." 6 A 
number were involved in further movements, so that by 2007 
at least 20 states of Europe and North America accommodated 
significant communities of Iraqi exiles. 7 Despite the reluctance of 
most governments to accept the refugees, pressures to flee war and 
occupation had become intense, leading many to seek sanctuary 
by all means - formal (under the direction of states and migration 
agencies) and informal. 8 

National Character of Displacement 

Most communities of Iraqi refugees originate in migrations which 
date from the 1960s and 1970s. Chatelard observes that the 

214 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

"refugee-producing phase" in Iraq is not a recent development, 
noting that throughout the 1990s Iraq vied with Afghanistan to 
top the list of applications for refugee status in Western Europe. 9 
She adds: 

The "refugee crisis" of the past few years is not an entirely new phenomenon 
and has been overlaid on a continuum of forced or induced migration going 
back decades and with a marked trend to acceleration as of 1991, and again 
as of 2005... There has long been an established Iraqi migration order 
within which Iraqis have migrated for different reasons although instances 
of forced or induced migration have been predominant. 10 

These important observations help explain the trajectory of 
recent mass movements. The latter nonetheless have specific 
features, notably their scale and systemic character. Before 
2003, major displacements were the outcome primarily of state 
offensives against opposition currents and specific ethno-religious 
groups. Since the invasion, displacement has taken on a national 
dimension. Every region and every ethnic community has been 
affected and entire socio-cultural, political and professional 
networks have been disrupted. This outcome is evident in headline 
statistics for "internal displacement" - forced migration within 
Iraq's territorial borders. UNHCR noted that by September 
2007, people forced from their usual places of residence were 
to be found across the country: 800,900 internally displaced 
people (IDPs) were located in the Northern Provinces, 740,500 
in the Central Provinces and 714,600 were in the Southern 
Provinces. 11 Although some governorates such as Baghdad were 
severely affected, accommodating very large numbers of IDPs, no 
governorate was unaffected. Displacement has been so widespread 
that since September 2007 the International Organization for 
Migration (IOM) has produced regular reports on a governorate- 
by-governorate basis. 12 These demonstrate complex patterns of 
flight across the country, with many migrants making lengthy, 
hazardous journeys. Increasingly, large numbers find themselves 
marooned at internal borders or in regional centers. 13 

Iraqis of all socio-economic statuses have been affected. One 
feature of displacement post-2003 has been the progressive 

The Purging of Minds 215 

involvement in long-distance migration of very poor people. The 
pattern of mass displacement worldwide reveals that people who 
are most disadvantaged in terms of economic and social status 
are most inhibited in their ability to make choices about when, 
where and how to travel in their journeys of survival. 14 Those 
with wealth and/or influence are first to migrate and may be 
able to select routes and destinations. Later migrants include the 
less privileged, who are often compelled to move more abruptly, 
with reduced choice of destinations. In the case of the large Iraqi 
community in Syria, al-Khalidi et al. found that most of those 
who arrived soon after the 2003 invasion were affluent people. 15 
Later all manner of Iraqis came. By 2007, researchers found, 
"increasingly, those arriving are poor." 16 The same pattern is 
evident in Egypt, where many of the first post-invasion refugees 
were wealthy or at least (initially) financially secure. By 2008 
refugee support centers in Cairo reported requests for help from 
impoverished people arriving direct from Iraq. 17 

Recent migrations from Iraq engage people from across 
the social spectrum. However, people of certain statuses have 
been disproportionately affected, notably Iraq's academics and 
professionals. This is consistent with the national character of 
displacement: there is strong evidence to suggest that their journeys 
of flight are closely associated with an assault upon the structures 
and ideological resources of Iraq as a national society. Sustained 
hostility towards people identified with Iraq as an independent 
nation-state has produced a regime of exclusion in which the 
intelligentsia is being evacuated: hence the presence in refugee 
communities of disproportionately large numbers of academics, 
writers, journalists and artists. As one senior Iraqi academic now 
living in Amman observes: "They [the occupation authorities and 
the Iraqi government] have cleared us out." 18 He continues: 

They say, "We [the occupation authorities and the Iraqi government] don't 
want these people. We'll prepare a new generation of academics and 
professionals - people of our own colouring." In order to understand why 
we [refugee academics] are here [in Amman] you need to know that it's a 
clear-out of people like me, for whom there is no place in the new Iraq. 19 

216 Cultural Cle 

"Brain Drain" 

The sweeping nature of attacks on Iraq's intellectuals is evident 
from data on targets of assassinations, disappearances and 
kidnappings. The BRusselk Tribunal, an NGO which monitors 
the circumstances of Iraqi academics, suggests that the pattern is 
"non-partisan and non-sectarian, targeting women as well as men, 
and is countrywide. It is indiscriminate of expertise: professors 
of geography, history and Arabic literature as well as science are 
among the dead." 20 The organization's growing list of victims 
identifies hundreds of highly qualified staff from institutions across 
the country, many attacked in public by plainclothes killers on or 
near their university campus. The campaign began shortly after 
the fall of the Ba'athist regime in April 2003. By December 2006, 
470 academics had been eliminated and Iraq's higher education 
sector was "in meltdown." 21 

Scores of reports in international media, notably in newspapers 
in Britain and the US, provide compelling evidence of the crisis. 
In August 2003, only four months after invasion, the New York 
Times identified growing anxieties among Iraqi academics about 
security on campus. 22 In April 2004, the Christian Science Monitor 
described "a climate of fear" and a "brain drain" of leading 
academics fleeing the country. 23 In July 2004, Robert Fisk of the 
Independent - an award-winning journalist with a record for 
accuracy and telling analysis - described the "painful mystery" 
of assaults on campus, reporting a widespread belief among 
university staff that the assaults amounted to "a campaign to strip 
Iraq of its academics." 24 In September 2004, the Times Higher 
Education Supplement reported claims of the Iraqi Union of 
University Lecturers that 250 academics had been killed since April 
2003. 25 In November 2006 the Boston Globe produced a lengthy 
analysis of "Iraq's violent 'brain drain'... an effort to eliminate 
remaining intellectuals and skilled professionals." 26 In the same 
month the Washington Post carried a lengthy personal account 
by a refugee professor of his flight from Iraq. Abdul Sattar Jawad, 
formerly Dean of the College of Arts at Mustansiriya University in 
Baghdad, observed that "the most dangerous place in Iraq is not 

The Purging of Minds 217 

the mosque, the marketplace or the military checkpoint, but the 
classroom." 27 He noted that although attacks on academics had 
been under way for over three years, "To date, not one person 
has been arrested for these murders." 28 

Notwithstanding a host of such reports, de facto authorities in 
Iraq - the national and local administrations and the US military 
command for example - initially adopted a policy of denial. 
Between 2003 and 2005 the Coalition Provisional Authority 
(CPA) failed to investigate any attacks and no arrests were made. 
When in September 2004 the US State Department was asked 
to comment, a spokesman described the matter as "obscure." 29 
American political leaders have since attributed responsibility to 
general insecurity and to the activity of "terrorists, insurgents, 
and the roaming death squads." 30 According to former President 
George W. Bush, "Shia extremists and al Qaeda terrorists are 
attempting to reignite sectarian violence through murder, and 
kidnappings, and other violent activities"; 31 they are "different 
faces of the same totalitarian threat," "violent and malignant 
ideologies" which encourage "sectarian rage and reprisal." 32 
These themes have been repeated ad extremum in American 
media, typically with references to ancient or atavistic religious 
hatreds, bigotry, "tribalism" and confessional violence. 33 

On this view, it is Islam that cultivates hostility and violence 

- an explanation that draws on centuries of prejudice and long- 
discredited Orientalist tropes. Many of those targeted by the 
assaults have a different view. In November 2006 a panel of 
Iraqi academics meeting at the Middle East Studies Association 
(MESA) conference in Washington discussed the problem. They 
could not attribute responsibility: Asquith notes, "When asked 
who was behind the killings, the professors' list was long: 
Sunnis, Shias, radical Islamists, Americans, Iranians, Israelis, 
Kuwaitis." 34 The RRussells Tribunal also warns against simplistic 
explanations, in particular, allegations that assassinations are 
"part of a so-called civil war between Sunni and Shia." 35 The 
Tribunal's view is that this approach amounts to a "smokescreen" 

- part of continuing attempts to justify the view that occupying 
forces should remain in Iraq to restore law and order. 36 Similar 

218 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

skepticism has been expressed in testimony to British parliamen- 
tarians. In June 2007 a parliamentary commission composed 
of members of the main British political parties investigated 
developments in Iraq. 37 Among materials submitted to the group 
was a report compiled by Ismail Jalili, former president of the 
Arab Medical Association. Quoting detailed analysis of attacks 
on academics and professionals since 2003, Jalili suggested that 
by mid-2007 some 380 university academics and doctors had 
been killed, together with 210 lawyers and judges, and 243 
journalists/media workers. These deaths, he suggested, were only 
the tip of an iceberg, as many killings went unreported. 38 

Of particular significance, Jalili maintained, was the geographic 
distribution of attacks. The majority of assaults on academics had 
taken place in Baghdad but others were distributed widely across 
the country in cities in which ethno-religious identities varied 
widely. Victims also came from a very wide range of academic 
specialisms. He reported that 31 percent of those affected were 
scientists, 23 percent were medical doctors, 22 percent were in the 
humanities, 11 percent in the social sciences, and 13 percent were 
of unspecified identity. 39 Jalili concluded that they were victims 
of an assault on the intelligentsia as a whole. This pattern, he 
maintained, was a novel development intimately associated with 
the occupation itself: "Targeted assassination of professionals in 
Iraq is a new phenomenon in Iraq's history. Academia, doctors, 
indeed knowledge itself, have always been accorded the highest 
respect. The current problem commenced with the 2003 invasion 
and continues to escalate." 40 

Investigation by human rights organizations on the ground 
in Iraq suggests that many political actors may be responsible, 
notably national and local parties and militias, insurgent/resistance 
groups and the forces of occupation. Human Rights Watch has 

Responsibility for the abuses. ..rests with the perpetrators. However, the 
U.S. and Iraqi governments have committed violations of the laws of war 
that raise serious doubts about their stated commitment to promoting 
the rule of law in Iraq... 

The Purging of Minds 219 

The U.S. -backed Iraqi government has committed arbitrary arrests and 
systematic torture against persons in detention, while militias linked to 
political parties in the government have been implicated in abductions, 
torture and assassinations. 41 

Human Rights Watch also notes assertions by senior academics that 
the very wide spectrum of political views, research interests and 
religious affiliations of academics who have been targeted implies 
a systematic attack on Iraq's intellectual elite. 42 It quotes the Vice 
Chancellor of al-Nahrain University in Baghdad to the effect that, 
"The only common demoninator is [the victims'] excellence." 43 


Some academic networks have identified the seriousness of 
the assaults. In the US, the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) sees a 
problem of startling proportions - "one of the greatest academic 
crises of our time." 44 SRF is associated with the US government, 
administering Fulbright Student and Scholars Programs on behalf 
of the State Department; it nonetheless observes that "hundreds 
if not thousands of Iraqi scholars have been killed," specifically 
targeted by groups which are intent on destroying the intellectual 
capital of Iraq. 45 According to SRF, "Untold thousands have 
been threatened and forced to flee while others are trapped in the 
country, unable to teach, conduct research, or carry out productive 
academic work." 46 The organization has established an Iraq 
Scholar Rescue Project to assist 150 senior academics by creating 
temporary academic positions for Iraqis at universities and colleges 
in the Middle East and North Africa. Its aim is "to contribute to 
the preservation of Iraq's vital intellectual capital." 47 

In Britain, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics 
(CARA), an organization of concerned scholars, has declared 
an emergency. In 2006 it launched a campaign to support Iraqi 
colleagues, creating a special fund to assist those reaching Britain. 
According to John Withrington, chairman of CARA's British 
Universities Iraq Consortium, "What we are seeing today in 
Iraq is a cynical and ruthless strategy of destabilisation... The 

220 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

strategy is to intimidate, to introduce anarchy instead or order, 
despair instead of hope." 48 CARA was founded in the 1930s 
by distinguished academics such as John Maynard Keynes and 
John Rutherford, with the aim of helping the Jewish intelligentsia 
then under persecution in Germany. According to its president, 
John Ashworth, "Now we have a crisis that is comparable in 
magnitude to the 1930s... In the 1930s Jews were not only being 
encouraged to emigrate but were also being murdered. We intend 
to support Iraqi academics wherever they may be." 49 He called 
on all universities in the UK and on student unions to "adopt" 
an Iraqi, i.e. to give an Iraqi academic work or to give a student 
a place at a British university. 

In 2006 CARA made contact with British Prime Minister Tony 
Blair, expressing its concerns and asking for support of Iraq 
academics. It also changed rules in place for decades, whereby 
CARA was only to support people granted formal refugee status in 
the UK. The organization now assists Iraqis not officially classified 
as refugees - a policy that challenges the British government, 
which has for years rejected claims by most Iraqis for asylum 
rights. The CARA position signals that many have good reason 
to seek refuge, asserting that events in Iraq do have implications 
for refugee policy in states such as Britain. 50 

Repression and Refuge 

There is a complex relationship between state powers and 
intellectuals. The latter have long been targets of repression. They 
may enjoy special personal status and/or be part of institutions 
and networks which enjoy some independence of local or central 
authority. As potential focal points for dissent or even resistance, 
they attract disproportionate interest from those in positions of 
power or who aspire to power. They have long been prominent 
among the excluded, becoming exiles - or in the modern 
usage, refugees. 

Anderson has established the importance to the modern state 
of an educated cadre within which ideas about nation, national 
belonging and national culture are developed and embellished. 51 

The Purging of Minds 221 

In the early modern era, networks of scholars, clerks and teachers 
were integral to state-building in Europe. They facilitated processes 
of monitoring and surveillance associated with efforts by new 
political authorities to assure control over increasingly volatile 
populations. At the same time they provided resources for the 
elaboration of novel national/nationalist ideologies. Increased 
literacy and the development of "print capitalism" made the intel- 
ligentsia a vital but also more dangerous resource. 52 Intellectuals in 
general became more important to the state and potentially more 
subversive of it. For this powerful reason, they were also closely 
monitored and were often key targets of campaigns of repression. 
When the new states excluded certain groups as part of processes 
integral to nation-state formation the intellectuals were prominent 
among those expelled. 53 Among the Jews and Muslims of Spain 
and Portugal, for example, many leading intellectuals were driven 
from religious institutions and centers of learning in exemplary 
actions pour encourager les autres: hundreds of thousands of their 
co-religionists subsequently fled. In the seventeenth century the 
Bourbon regime in France expelled similar numbers of religious 
dissenters by focusing upon the ideologues of Calvinism, notably 
writers and priests. These Huguenots became the archetypal 
refugies, people who had been excluded and who sought security 
in la refuge, communities of exile. 54 

Regulation of population movement, suggests Soguk, is part of 
"statecraft" in the modern era. 55 In the case of the Huguenots the 
emerging Bourbon state asserted its authority by marginalizing 
and then excluding Calvinists as a means of articulating "a novel 
organization of polity." 56 This marked out "statist territoriality," 
securing internal and external borders "to serve the felicity of the 
state." 57 Over the next two centuries there were many similar 
episodes. As the old empires of Europe resolved into a host of 
nation-states, nationalist intellectuals were in the vanguard of 
change. As leading figures in movements for self-determination 
they were often expelled or forced to flee: hence the majority 
of refugees in nineteenth century Britain, the refugee capital 
of Europe, were "political exiles" from Italy, Hungary, Poland 
and Germany. 58 Some were also victims of authorities within 

222 Cultural Clean; 

the new states - like the Huguenots they were people whose 
cultural markers (religion, language, "ethnicity") identified them 
as different and as appropriate for exclusionary measures which 
were integral to consolidation of the nation-state. 59 

Somewhat similar developments were under way in Africa, 
Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Here European states 
had developed cadres of local military men, administrators, 
teachers and technical experts to enable commercial activity 
and mediate relations with subordinate populations. From these 
milieux emerged radical thinkers whose ideas about rights and 
self-determination were subversive of European rule. The pattern 
was particularly striking during the last phases of the colonial era, 
when in the Middle East European dominance was contested by 
proponents of national and regional independence who emerged 
primarily from within the structures of the colonial state, notably 
from the education system and the armed forces. They had in 
effect been instruments of state-building who turned their efforts 
as intellectuals and activists to the project of self-determination. 
Pan-Islamism, Pan-Arabism and a host of movements for national 
independence were shaped within such networks. 

These developments became more marked as the project of 
independent national development was linked to the state itself. 
By the mid twentieth century, agendas for change in the "Third" 
world were focused upon the state as an agency for liberation and 
social progress. In the Middle East a series of upheavals brought 
to power governments committed to sweeping change, including 
nationalization of foreign capital, collectivization of land, and 
independent industrial development. In the case of Egypt, said 
Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the state of the colonial era had been no 
more than "a group of clerks" charged with maintaining order 
and issuing documents; after the revolution of 1952, he observed, 
its activities vastly increased. 60 In newly independent states 
education was high on the agenda. Universities were directed 
to produce a new generation of intellectuals who would serve 
as leaders in politics, the armed forces and civil administration. 
In the case of Egypt, observes Baker, there were "monumental 
efforts" to advance higher education. 61 So too in Iraq, where the 

University of Baghdad - the country's first modern university 
- was established shortly before the nationalist revolution of 
1958. During the 1960s five more universities were established: 
the University of Technology and Al-Mustansiriya University 
in Baghdad, and institutions in Basra, Mosul and Sulaymania. 
Over the next two decades higher education grew fast: by 2003 
there were 14 public universities, among them institutions widely 
viewed as pre-eminent in the Arab world, and which became 
integral to the Ba'athist project. 62 


Arab regimes share the experiences of political authorities 
worldwide. Intellectuals are at once essential to the life of the state 
and potentially subversive of it. Notwithstanding a comprehensive 
regime of repression under the Ba'ath, Iraq's academics, writers 
and artists retained a margin of independence within which they 
maintained creative activity. Reviewing the history of modern 
Iraq, Tripp comments on the "creative and independently minded 
intellectuals associated with the remarkable flowering of artistic 
talent in Iraq." 63 For an increasing number of Iraqis, however, the 
price of independence has been exclusion. Tripp also comments 
on those compelled to leave, "when exit was often the only way 
to ensure that their voices did not become drowned in the barked 
commands of the centre." 64 From the 1960s, Iraqi refugees were 
widely dispersed across the Arab world and during the 1970s and 
1980s exile communities grew rapidly. In the 1990s there was 
continuing migratory movement, especially to Jordan. 65 In this 
respect Iraq's academics, professionals and artists have undergone 
experiences similar to those of refugee intellectuals worldwide. They 
are part of processes of formation and consolidation of modern 
states, and also among the state's most prominent victims. Since 
2003, however, they have suffered a different fate. The marginal 
space within which some survived has finally closed, as the intel- 
ligentsia faces an onslaught without precedent in Iraqi history. 

The most significant aspect of the recent crisis is its systemic 
character. Each and every university has come under attack and 

224 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

academics and specialists from a wide range of disciplines and 
professions have been targeted. This reality cannot be isolated 
from assaults on the Iraqi state initiated in the early 1990s through 
sanctions and international efforts at isolation. Higher education 
and research were easy targets for those organizing sanctions: they 
banned dispatch of academic journals to Iraq, prevented Iraqi 
delegates attending most international conferences, and inhibited 
individual and institutional involvement in collaborative projects. 
In 2003 the process was intensified when de-Ba'athification placed 
all academics under suspicion as enemies of the new order. This 
was a direct outcome of policies adopted by the US which aimed 
to cleanse Iraq of influences said to have deformed the society at 
large. Of these the most damaging, argued American strategists, 
was the notion that the state should be a core component of 
national life. 

The US has long intervened in the affairs of Arab states with 
the aim of compelling them to conform to a specific vision of 
development. In the mid-1970s American officials secured 
agreement of the Sadat regime in Egypt to introduce "market" 
reforms. Encouraged, they pressed for privatization, cuts in 
subsidies and welfare provision, and free policies for trade and 
investment across the region. By the 1980s this program was 
being pursued formally as "neo-liberalism," with a global agenda 
for change. Endorsed by key financial institutions, notably the 
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, it was 
imposed by all means, including structural adjustment policies and 
instrumental use of military support and development "aid." State- 
centered economic policies were meanwhile declared unacceptable 
and those attached to them deemed enemies of progress. As 
neo-liberalism was complemented by neo-conservative views 
on political and social order, the US became a self-appointed 
"geopolitical manager," distributing aid and favors and - where 
local regimes did not behave as required - declaring them "rogue" 
states and imposing punitive measures. 66 After September 11, 
2001 and declaration of a war on terror, a series of such states 
(including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan) were also linked to 

The Purging of Minds 225 

alleged terrorist conspiracies, becoming part of a nexus of threats 
to world order. 

American political leaders were convinced (at least publicly) 
that such threats were to be identified primarily with the Middle 
East. The key feature of states in this region, they maintained, was 
recalcitrance in relation to economic and political reforms - what 
Klein calls a "deficit in free-market democracy" - which should be 
corrected by exemplary interventions aimed to set off "democratic/ 
neoliberal waves" of reform. 67 Klein observes: "Within the internal 
logic of this theory, fighting terrorism, spreading frontier capitalism 
and holding elections were bundled into a single unified project." 68 
The initial target for corrective measures was Iraq, which was to 
be turned into a "model state." Iraq would be a base for reforms 
which would ripple across the Middle East in a comprehensive 
process of economic and political cleansing. 69 

Assault on the State 

Thomas Friedman has argued that "we [Americans] are not doing 
nation-building in Iraq. We are doing nation-creating." 70 Invasion 
of Iraq aimed to make a national society fit for the contemporary 
era, with the state itself the main target of reconstruction. In 
2003 CPA chief Paul Bremer embraced de-Ba'athification as an 
exemplary statement about US intentions, telling the Pentagon 
that he wanted his arrival in Iraq to be marked by "clear, public 
and decisive steps to reassure Iraqis that we are determined to 
eradicate Saddamism." 71 In this scenario all material and human 
resources associated with the old order were legitimate targets: as 
one senior official attested, the public sector as a whole was now 
under suspicion. 72 Following the invasion, US forces stood by as 
looters removed all manner of goods from state properties - from 
ministries, agencies, depots, colleges and university campuses. 
Klein quotes Peter McPherson, senior economic advisor to CPA 
head Paul Bremer, to the effect that this was part of the process 
of change: "I thought that the privatisation which occurs sort of 
naturally [sic] when somebody took over their state vehicle, or 
began to drive a truck that the state used to own, was just fine." 73 

226 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Pillage of public resources, he said, was a legitimate form of public 
sector "shrinkage." 74 McPherson's job, comments Klein, was "to 
radically downsize the state and privatise its assets, which meant 
that the looters were really just giving him a jump-start." 75 

As an integral part of the independent state, Iraq's academic 
institutions were to be subject to sweeping change. In 2003 John 
Agresto was appointed Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Higher 
Education and Scientific Research, reporting directly to Bremer. 
He told the Washington Post that before leaving for Iraq he knew 
"next to nothing" about Iraq's universities but that he accepted 
the position because, "This is what Americans do: They go and 
help... I guess I just always wanted to be a good American." 76 
Agresto (formerly responsible for a minor liberal arts college in 
the US) was put in charge of the entire Iraqi higher education 
system with its 375,000 students. His aim was "to reconstruct 
Iraq's decrepit [sic] universities and create an educational system 
that would nurture and promote the country's best minds." 77 
He regarded the post-invasion looting of campuses as beneficial, 
saying that it provided "the opportunity for a clean start." 78 

The attack on physical structures of the state was paralleled by 
an assault on its human resources. De-Ba'athification removed 
hundreds of thousands of state employees, including in primary and 
secondary education where 10,000 to 15,000 teachers immediately 
lost their jobs, leaving schools in some regions stripped of staff. 79 
In an early report the Times Higher Education Supplement 
described "a devastating impact on academe." 80 It noted the 
assertion of leading academics that they had been "professors 
first and Ba'athists a very distant second," observing that under 
the Saddam regime junior members of university staff had been 
compelled to carry party cards even to enter their institutions. As 
Sassoon observes, academics with even the most tenuous links 
to the Ba'ath Party became targets. De-Ba'athification identified 
them officially with the core of the old regime and, at a stroke, 
removed a host of people whose qualifications and experience 
were already in short supply. 81 Klein comments that the purges 
cut away people viewed officially as "dead wood" and who were 
judged likely to oppose the new agenda of free-market reform and 

democratic change. 82 It is in this context that the CPA approved 
a wholesale assault on academic and professional networks. In 
effect it declared open season on professors, medical doctors, 
dentists, pharmacists, engineers, writers, artists - the "old" intelli- 
gentsia. They were guilty by association for having worked within 
the apparatus of state, for having remained in Iraq through the 
years of sanctions and hardship, and for not having become exiles. 
Most important, they were deemed to be people of influence 
who did not have a place within the new order and who could 
be targeted with impunity. As a result the Iraqi diaspora, like 
many others before it, soon contained unprecedented numbers 
of the country's intellectuals, "looted" like their libraries, offices, 
classrooms, studios and laboratories. Had they too become objects 
of contemporary statecraft - marginalized and excluded during 
reconstruction of the nation-state? 

State of Terror 

There is circumstantial evidence to suggest involvement of all 
manner of internal and external forces in attacks on the intelligen- 
tsia. Sassoon notes that from 2006 it became increasingly difficult 
to distinguish between incidents involving armed opposition to 
the American occupation, communal hostilities and freelance 
"mafia-style" kidnappings and killings. 83 Other contributors to 
this book examine in detail questions about who perpetrated the 
assaults. Here, it is useful to consider aspects of the crisis which 
can be placed in a comparative context. 

Arbuthnot comments on the gruesome methods in use in Iraq 
since 2003: 

[Pjeople from the entire spectrum of Iraq's professional class [are] dragged 
from homes, offices and consulting room. Tortured, shot, ambushed or 
simply disappeared, they are found dumped outside hospitals, morgues, 
slumped over car wheels, on refuse dumps, or in the streets. 84 

For researchers who have examined other such crises this is a 
familiar scenario. Summerfield comments on the use of "states of 
terror" in campaigns of violence. 85 The aim, he says, is to affect 

228 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

"grassroots social relations, as well as subjective mental life, as 
a means of social control": 

It is to these ends that most acts of torture are directed, rather than to 
the extracting of information. The mutilated bodies of those abducted by 
security agents, dumped in a public place, are props in a political theatre 
meant to render a whole society a stunned audience. 86 

These tactics are often associated with blanket denials of 
responsibility. The identity of perpetrators is concealed by the 
authorities, which maintain an official posture of denial. Ignacio 
Martin-Baro, a priest-academic murdered in El Salvador in 1989, 
wrote of "institutionalized lies" and of "circles of silence" which 
accompany disappearances and arbitrary killings and which are 
part of efforts to create feelings of intense insecurity, leading to 
mass displacement. 87 Atrocities are planned by state agencies, 
political movements and militias with the aim of producing a 
"demonstration" effect, forcing people onto the move and 
clearing communities and social networks, sometimes whole 
regions. During conflicts associated with partition of India in 1947 
millions of people fled in the face of attacks in which extremes 
of violence were used. 88 In Palestine, Pappe relates how Zionist 
militias used similar methods to precipitate mass flight of the 
Arab population. 89 Morris asserts that those responsible aimed 
"to encourage the population to take to the roads," projecting 
"a message of transfer [of the Palestinians]." 90 Ethno-nationalist 
organizations in Central Asia, East and West Africa and the 
Balkans have since used a similar approach. 

In recent decades instrumental use of terror has been formalized 
by American intelligence agencies, notably the CIA. During 
the 1950s the organization worked closely with pro-American 
regimes and movements in Central America with the aim of 
fragmenting dissident communities and political networks, 
and clearing territories in order to pursue commercial and/or 
strategic interests. Using a strategy it described as "demobi- 
lization," the agency aimed "to atomise and make docile the 
ordinary citizenry." 91 In Guatemala, it targeted left-wing activists 
and peasant and labor unions, compiling lists of suspects to be 

targeted by death squads composed of plainclothes soldiers or 
police. Thousands of people were killed and "disappeared" and 
much larger numbers fled. This approach was later formalized 
as "counterinsurgency," becoming a key element in US strategy 
for conflicts involving large civilian populations. 92 In the 1970s 
it was repackaged as "low intensity conflict" (LIC), a strategy 
for intervention in the "Third" world which combined economic 
pressures with psychological warfare. 

In Nicaragua the CIA provided pro-American Contra forces 
with a handbook, Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare. 93 
This explained how "techniques of persuasion" could be used 
by covert groups with the aim of generating "justified violence" 
against target communities and stimulating a "whiplash" effect 
which would "shake up" and "replace" undesirable aspects of 
Nicaraguan society. 94 Selected targets were to be "neutralized"; 
allies including "professional criminals" should be hired to carry 
out "specific jobs." 95 The publication confirmed suspicions that 
intelligence agencies had long worked systematically across 
Central America to disseminate fear and prompt crises in which 
hundreds of thousands of people became migrants. Academics 
had been key targets. In 1980 the US-backed Duarte junta in El 
Salvador organized an attack on the San Salvador campus of the 
country's leading educational institution, the National University. 
Some 30 faculty members, including the Rector, were killed or 
disappeared and buildings were burned and looted. The Dean of 
Science and Humanities reported: 

The army burned complete libraries; in the law school, where we once had 
about 100,000 volumes, we now have only 3,000. In the first days of the 
occupation, the officers of the army grabbed as much of the equipment, 
furniture, medical supplies [as] they could, and the rest they destroyed. 
Whatever equipment they didn't understand, they ruined. 95 

Such attacks aimed at the cumulative collapse of academic networks 
deemed to contain human materials uncongenial to the junta. 
Almost 20 years before similar events in Iraq, Chomsky described 
them as efforts "to destroy the national culture by violence." 97 

230 Cultural Cleans 

Salvador Option 

The US has not pioneered use of terror. The latter has a long 
history including, in the twentieth century, in states under fascist 
or Stalinist control or influence. Since the 1950s, however, 
successive American administrations have used intelligence 
agencies to disseminate worldwide the practices rehearsed in 
Central America. States which have embraced these methods or 
refined existing practice on the US model, include Turkey, Egypt, 
Indonesia, the Philippines, Kenya, Colombia and Peru. In some 
cases there have been admissions of responsibility, as when in 
1999 President Clinton apologized to the people of Guatemala 
for US involvement in "violence and widespread repression." 98 
Under the influence of neo-conservative strategists, however, LIC 
has been refurbished with methods including intensified state 
terror, "extraordinary rendition" and extremes of torture such 
as those which became public at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. 
Chomsky comments that, "Washington [has] waged its 'war 
on terrorism' by creating an international terror network of 
unprecedented scale, and employing it worldwide with lethal 
and long lasting effects." 99 

In evidence to the British parliamentary commission Jalili 
maintains that the US has implemented a "Salvador" option in 
Iraq. He observes that atrocities which followed the invasion, 
aimed at Iraq's intelligentsia, "followed a methodical period 
of looting and destruction of Iraq's heritage, infrastructure, 
universities and libraries." 100 He concludes: 

Many Iraqis, together with sections of international academia, believe this 
to be highly indicative of a plan to drain Iraq of its intellectuals and experts 
and dismantle its infrastructure along a pattern known as "El-Salvador 
Option" used in that country by the Pentagon. 101 

Has the US implemented such a strategy in Iraq - or have its 
aims been more modest, to prompt uncertainty and instability, 
inhibiting the development of independent alternatives to those 
now in authority? Saad Jawad was formerly Professor of Political 
Science at the University of Baghdad: he is now a research fellow 

The Purging of Minds 231 

at the University of Exeter, UK. Analyzing the progress of the 
occupation in 2006, he observed that intellectuals were among 
the main victims of a general crisis of insecurity: 

The problem of security, or the lack of it, is the main reason why intellectuals 
have become such easy targets [of kidnapping or assassination]... precisely 
because of the chaos, the systematized assassinations of Iraqi intellectuals 
have gone largely unnoticed in the outside world. Iraq is being drained 
of its most able thinkers, thus an important component to any true Iraqi 
independence is being eliminated. 102 

It may be many years before responsibility can be attributed 
with confidence, especially for specific attacks. It does seem likely, 
however, that strategies rehearsed elsewhere have been applied 
with special ferocity in Iraq, where - uniquely - the state itself 
has been under assault. Klein describes the CPA's approach to the 
Iraqi economy as a Year Zero agenda - an attempt to sweep away 
obstacles to free-market relations as part of a millenarian vision of 
what US-led "liberation" was to deliver. As neo-liberalism fused 
with neo-conservatism both US forces and their proxies within 
Iraq's new, confessionally based political order were presented with 
the spectacle of an intelligentsia contaminated by its association 
with the state. 103 Academic and professional relations - which had 
operated on a largely secular basis - violated the new arrangements 
in which loyalty to political parties, militias and networks of 
patronage was to be organized through ethno-religious affiliation. 
It is in this sense that, when President George W. Bush resolved to 
attack Iraq, a purging of minds became inevitable. 

The offensive has been successful, producing cumulative effects 
which lead thousands of people and their families to flee. It has 
scattered people whose institutional and professional networks 
are in disrepair. Academics in particular are separated from the 
human resources which facilitate their work, including colleagues, 
students and wider professional relationships. A professor of 
science from Baghdad laments the outcome: "It took decades of 
painful work to establish our universities - now they are ruined. 
Why? Because Bush and his friends said: 'You are all guilty' and 
condemned us to death or to leave Iraq. What choice did we 

232 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

have?" 104 Further testimony comes from an unlikely source: since 
ending his tenure as CPA advisor on universities, John Agresto 
has reflected on the fate of higher education in Iraq. He told the 
Washington Post of his disillusion and anger, concluding: "I'm a 
neoconservative who's been mugged by reality." 105 Agresto lived 
to tell his tale: many Iraqi intellectuals "mugged" by the realities 
of invasion and occupation have suffered a different fate. 


Thanks to Raymond Baker for comments on this chapter in 


Interview with NGO official in Amman, October 2008. 

For a fuller development of this argument see Philip Marfleet, 

Refugees in a Global Era, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 


UNHCR, "Iraqis Still at the Fop of the Asylum Seeker Fable, Despite 

Drop," 2008, 

htm, accessed December 2008. 

According to the UNHCR's asylum trends report, the number 

of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 

2008 was higher than the combined number of asylum claims 

submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China 

(8,700), the second and third most important source countries. 

See UNHCR, "Iraqis Still at the Fop of the Asylum Seeker Table, 

Despite Drop." 

Refugees not placed formally in camps or other sites are usually 

known as "spontaneous" or "self-settled" refugees. 

UNHCR, Statistics on Displaced Iraqis around the World, 2008, pdf?tbl=S 

UBSITES&id=470387fc2, accessed December 2008. 

There is growing evidence to suggest that Iraqis denied admission 

to states in which they seek sanctuary use clandestine means of 

travel and of entry. Iraqi refugees in Cairo, for example, have 

increasingly used informal migration routes to reach states of 

Western Europe and North America. Information obtained through 

personal interviews with NGO officials in Egypt, November 


Geraldine Chatelard, "Constructing and Deconstructing 'the 

Iraq Refugee Crises'," paper presented to the conference of the 

The Purging of Minds 233 

International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, London, 
July 2008. 

10. Ibid. 

11. UNHCR, Statistics on Displaced Iraqis around the World, 

12. See IOM reports provided in the IOM-Iraq General Library, at: 

13. Philip Marfleet, "Iraq's Refugees: War and the Strategy of Exit," 
International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, Vol. 1, 
No. 3, 2007. 

14. Marfleet, Refugees in a Global Era. 

15. Ashraf al-Khalidi, Sophia Hoffman and Victor Tanner, Iraqi 
Refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic: A Field-Based Snapshot, 
Washington, DC: Brookings-Bern, 2007, p. 10. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Interview with officials of St. Andrew's Church refugee services, 
Cairo, January 2008. 

18. Personal interview with a former senior academic from Baghdad 
now living in Jordan; Amman, October 2008. 

19. Ibid. 

20. BRussells Tribunal, "Stop the Assassination of Iraqi Academics,", accessed 
December 2008. 

21. Lucy Hodges, "Iraq's Universities are in Meltdown, " Indep i '■ , 
December 7, 2006. 

22. Christina Asquith, "Righting Iraq's Universities," New York 
Times, 3 August 2003. 

23. Annia Ciezadlo, "Death to Those Who Dare to Speak Out," 
Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2004. 

24. Robert Fisk, "Academics Targeted as Murder and Mayhem Hits 
Iraqi Colleges," Independent, July 14, 2004. 

25. Tabitha Morgan, "Murderof Lecturers Threatens Iraqi Academia," 
1 1 i I li •' Eel io t "A i i i nib i 1 ) 2004 

26. Bryan Bender and Farah Stockman, "Iraq's Violent 'Brain Drain' 
Called a Threat to Future," Boston Globe, November 30, 2006. 

27. Abdul Sattar Jawad, "Iraq's Deadliest Zone: Schools," Washington 
Post, November 27, 2006. 

28. Ibid. 

29. Andrew Rubin, "The Slaughter of Iraq's Intellectuals," New 
Statesman, September 6, 2004. 

30. White House, "State of the Union Address," January 23, 2007, 
Washington DC: White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 

234 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

White House, "President Bush Visits Naval War College, Discusses 

Iraq, War on Terror," June 28, 2007, Washington DC: White 

House, Office of the Press Secretary. 

White House, "State of the Union Address," January 23, 2007. 

Most media analyses follow this lead. In March 2007 Time 

magazine, for example, declared that US hopes of building a stable 

Iraq had been ruined by "toxic" hatreds between Iraq's Sunni and 

Shia communities (Bobby Ghosh, "Why They Hate Each Other," 

Time, March 12, 2007). The mass of Iraqis were divided by an 

"unbridgeable chasm," it asserted, suggesting that the loss of loved 

ones, jobs, homes and entire communities should be attributed to 

the "venom," "bloodlust," "fury" and "rage" of Iraqi Muslims. 

Christina Asquith, "Murder, Fear Follow Iraqi Professors on 

Campus," Dircrse Issues in Higher Education, November 21, 


Dirk Andriaensens, "About the Assassination of Iraqi Academics," 

Report of an International Seminar in Madrid 2006, http://www. = l&p=22885&s2=27, accessed December 



The Commission was jointly chaired by the former Liberal 

Democrat leader Lord Ashdown; a former Labour Leader of the 

House of Lords, Baroness Jay; and a former Conservative Defence 

Secretary, Lord King. It was set up by the Foreign Policy Centre, 

in partnership with Channel 4, with an aspiration to be the British 

equivalent of the US Iraq Study Group. See the Commission's 

website at: http://www.channel4.eom/news/microsites/I/the_iraq_ 

commission/index. html. 

Ismail Jalili, Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact and Implications, 

2007, p. 2, 

pdf, accessed December 2008. 

Ibid., p. 8. 

Ibid., p. 14. 

Human Rights Watch, A Tace arid a Name: Civilian Victims of 

Insurgent Groups in Iraq, New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005, 


Ibid., p. 93. 


Scholar Rescue Fund - Iraq Scholar Refugee Project, http://, accessed 

December 2008. 

The Purging of Minds 235 

47. Ibid. 

48. Hodges, "Iraq's Universities are in Meltdown." 

49. Ibid. 

50. Between September 2006 and September 2007 only 55 of 780 
applications for asylum processed by the British government were 
successful (Tom Porteous, "The Refugees Fleeing Iraq Are Our 
Responsibility" h , , I t, March 6, 2007). CARA's executive 
secretary, John Akker, has commented: "The UK government is 
hung up on its policy on Iraq... Because it believes things will 
be settled in Iraq and that there are some safe areas, they [the 
government] are not giving any kind of refugee status to those 
who have genuine fears for their lives" (Zvika Krieger, "Iraq's 
Universities Near Collapse," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 

51. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Comm , , ! fit ctions on the 
i / id Spread o , London: Verso, J 

52. Ibid. 

53. For a fuller account of this argument see Marfleet, Refugees in a 
Global Era and Philip Marfleet, "Refugees and History: Why We 
Must Address the Past," Reft get e,i, ,v\ ( )uai terly, Vol. 26, No. 

54. The term refugie may first have been used by Calvinists fleeing the 
Netherlands during the sixteenth ccnuii \ but, suggests Cottret (The 
Huguenots in England, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1991), it was not used systematically until after the Huguenots' 
mass flight from France in 1685. 

55. fzat Soguk, .S md it Rcf'i it displacements of 
Statecraft, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 

56. Ibid., p. 72. 

57. Ibid., p. 73. 

58. Bernard Porter, Th Refit Question i ' \ orian Politics, 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. 

59. These developments later resolved into wholesale population 
movements which sometimes affected entire regions, notably 
Eastern Europe and the Balkans, where large groups of people 
were "cleansed" on the basis of ethnic identification. By the early 
twentieth century state formation in Europe and the Middle East 
was associated with complex processes in which large populations 
were "unmixed" -Turkiic ■ ii n,Ru lification, Hellenization and 
eventually Arabization. 

60. Quoted in Raymond W. Baker, Egypt's Uncertain Revolution 
under Nasser and Sadat, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 
Press, 1978, p. 60. 

236 Cultural Cle 

Ibid., p. 73. 

There were in addition 47 technical institutes. 
Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, Cambridge and New York: 
Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 294. 

Chatelard, "Constructing and Deconstructing 'the Iraq Refugee 

Richard Falk, The Great Terror War, Moreton-in-Marsh, UK: 
Arris, 2003. 

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, 
London: Penguin, 2007, p. 328. 

Thomas Friedman, "What Were They Thinking?" New York 
Times, October 7, 2005. 

R iji Ch Irasekaran.I il Li) ' E ild City, London: 

Bloomsbury, 2006, p. 78. 

"No One Believes in the Private Sector": Mohamed Tofiq of the 
Industry Ministry interviewed by Naomi Klein, in Klein, The 
Shock Doctrine, p. 349. 
Klein, The Shock Doctrine, p. 337. 

Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City. 
Ibid and pp. 31-5. In the CPA some of the new officials appeared 
to believe the rhetoric of change. Agresto anticipated securing 
hundreds of millions of dollars for the universities. He was 
eventually allocated $8 million (reduced by $500,000 of "admin- 
istrative fees") for the entire sector: when he left Iraq after almost 
a year in office his attempts to obtain even elementary science lab 
equipment had failed and he was left with "pocket change" for 

Ibid., p. 184. Agresto says that later he regretted the destruction: 
"What the looting did to the capacity to teach was incredible... 
The Americans don't want to talk about it because we did so little 
to stop the looting." 

Under the previous regime the Ministry of Education had instructed 
teachers in certain schools to join the ruling party as a condition of 
employment. See Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald 
City, ch. 4. 

Turi Munthe, "Will Harsh Weed-out Allow Iraqi Academia to 
Flower?" Times Higher Education Supplement, Jul) 25, 200,]. 

The Purging of Minds 237 

81. Joseph Sassoon, The Iraqi Refugees: The New ( 'risis in the Middle 
East, London: IB Tauris, 2008, p. 140. 

82. Klein, The Shock Doctrine, p. 352. 

83. Sassoon, The Iraqi Refugees, p. 141. 

84. Felicity Arbuthnot, "Tortured, shot, ambushed, victims are found 
dumped outside morgues. What is happening to Iraq's intellectuals 
is chilling,"' Times Higher Education Supplement, March 10, 

85. Derek Summerfield, "Addressing Human Response to War and 
Atrocity: Major Challenges in Research and Practices and the 
Limitations of Western Psychiatric Models," in R.J. Kleber, 
C.R. Figley and B.P.R. Gersons (eds.), Beyond Trauma: Cultural 
and Societal Dynamics, New York: Plenum Press, 1995, p. 17. 

86. Ibid. 

87. Ignacio Martin-Baro, Writings for a Eiberation Psychology, 
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994. 

88. GyanendraPandi\, I , ngPa m:Vit itionalism 
and History in India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 

IanPappe, The Ethm C7< m , "<./ Palestine, Oxford: Oneworld, 
2006, p. 110. 

Benny Morris, "On Ethnic Cleansing," New Eeft Review, Second 
Series, Vol. 26, March-April 2004, p. 40. 

John A. Booth and Thomas W Walker, Understanding Central 
America, Boulder: Westview, 1993, p. 146. 
For a fuller account see Marfleet, Refugee:- in a Global Era.. 
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), Psychological Operations in 
Guerrilla Warfare, 1984, 
efare.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

94. Ibid., pp. 7 and 47. 

95. Ibid., p. 51. 

96. Quoted in Noam Chomsky, Turning the 'Tide: US Intervention in 
Central Amenta md • or Peai Bostoi vl South 
End Press, 1985, pp. 105-6. 

97. Ibid. 

98. Quoted in Human Rights Watch, World Report 2000; New York: 
Human Rights Watch, 2000: 133. 

99. Noam Chomsky, "Who are the Global Terrorists?," in Ken Booth 
and Tim Dunne, Worlds in Collision: Terror and the Future of 
Global Order, Basingstoke: Palgravc Macmillan, 2002, p. 132. 

100. Jalili, Iraq's Lost Generation, p. 14. 

238 Cultural Cleans 

Ibid. Others have explored this analysis. See, for example, Robert 

Dreyfuss, "Phoenix Rising," American Pr< ispect, January 1, 2004, 

and observations of the BRusselk Tribunal at: http://orogenysound. 


Laith Al-Saud, "Iraqi Intellectuals and the Occupation," 

Counterpunch, January 3, 2006. 

On the architecture of Iraq's post-2005 political order see Marfleet 

"Iraq's Refugees: War and the Strategy of Exit." 

Personal interview, Amman, October 2008. 

1 li in ii karan, Inipt il '• • < he Emerald City, p. 1 



Mokhtar Lamani 


Until my resignation in January 2007 from my position as the Arab 
League ambassador and Special Envoy to Iraq, I witnessed that all 
Iraqis from different ethnic, religious and sectarian backgrounds 
were not only suffering but were also victims to the collapse of the 
foundations of their societies rooted in Mesopotamian heritage. 
The Iraqi crisis becomes a question of life or death for hundreds 
of thousands of people; it is also a threat to a critical part of 
human history and civilization. The purpose of this chapter on 
minorities is not to further divide the Iraqi people; but to illuminate 
their suffering, which all endure, albeit differently. The chapter 
was originally published as a special report of the Centre for 
International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian-based, 
independent, nonpartisan think tank that addresses international 
governance challenges. It represents the first fruits of a collective 
and ongoing effort, supported by the Centre. 

Where the term "minorities" is used in this chapter, it refers to 
the dozen ethnic and religious groups that are apart from what 
was established by the occupying forces as an atypical division 
(Shia, Sunni and Kurd). This political system based on ethnic and 
religious quotas has emphasized the other minorities' vulnerability 
to the dangers that have persisted since then. 

It is clear that the findings of this chapter cannot be considered 
final. The evolution of the situation on the ground in Iraq, and its 

240 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

implications for all Iraqis, is so rapid and so often contradictory 
that this chapter should stay open for future updating, corrections 
and judgments. Our intention is to present a portrait that is as 
accurate as possible, to update our conclusions as the situation 
continues to evolve and to assess the direction of events. We 
also offer suggestions for action to alleviate the very difficult 
circumstances in which minorities find themselves. Mesopotamia 
has been the birthplace and, for millennia, the home of dozens 
of ethnicities and religions, which together formed a delicate and 
beautiful cultural, religious and social mosaic that later came to 
be an important part of the identity of the modern state of Iraq. 
For thousands of years, under countless regimes and through 
successive conflicts, these minority groups have persisted and the 
mosaic of Iraq has flourished. 

The ongoing sectarian violence and the inability of the current 
Iraqi leadership to achieve national reconciliation and a secure 
social environment threatens to destroy the mosaic that has 
persisted for all this time. Iraqi minorities are facing a dispro- 
portionate level of violence and instability, which threatens to 
drive them out of Iraq permanently. While Iraqi minorities make 
up only 5 percent of the total population, they comprise more 
than 20 percent of the displaced population. 2 

The question of minorities is always a very sensitive issue in 
the Middle East. Our original plan was to conduct field research 
on Iraqi minorities in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Egypt in November 
and December 2008. Unfortunately we couldn't include Syria; I 
was informed that this specific mission was not welcome at this 
time and therefore my assistant, a Canadian, was unable to get a 
visa. We were able to meet with leaders and individuals in Iraq, 
Jordan, and Egypt. 

The Middle East comprises a myriad of different religious, 
ethnic, and tribal minorities, all of which have coexisted down 
through history and preserved their rich identities and traditions 
over the centuries. Despite their significant cultural and intellectual 
contributions to the diversity and prosperity in the communities 
in which they reside, minority groups are the focus of much of 
contemporary conflict in the Middle East. Many Middle Eastern 

Minorities in Iraq 241 

minorities are facing increasing hostility at the hands of e 
groups and even government bodies. Ironically, even groups 
that are a physical majority in their countries can sometimes 
be a political minority in their governments and face similar 
minority pressures. 

We still have not seen a constitution that is based on equal 
citizenship implemented in the whole region. An example of this 
is the requirement that citizens of most Middle Eastern countries 
declare their ethnic or religious background, or both, on their 
identification cards or official papers. In some cases they are 
even forced to indicate an affiliation that doesn't reflect reality 
because their governments do not recognize their religion or 
ethnic group. 

We have chosen to focus on the Iraqi case not only because it 
is a question of life or death for hundreds of thousands of people, 
but also because the crisis there threatens a critical part of human 
history and civilization. 

Iraq has crystallized strong geopolitical and geostrategic 
tensions that are marked by three layers of complexity: 

• The first is the unfolding of the internal Iraqi socio-political 
crisis and its different aspects. 

• The second has at its root the extremely complex nature of 
the regional dimension and its interplay with the internal 
aspects of the Iraq crisis. 

• The third is the international interactions inherent in Iraq's 
position in the region, compounded by its importance to 
the international economy because of its oil resources and 
its position in the Middle East. 

These geopolitical and geostrategic tensions lie at the heart of the 
threats that minorities face. They are pawns, used by all parties on 
the chessboard that is the new Iraq. Little if any attention is paid 
to their genuine needs; rather their suffering is used to advance 
other agendas. 

If there was ever a need for dynamic new thinking to address 
to governance challenges in Iraq, it is now. By sounding the 

242 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

alarm over the desperate plight of Iraq's minorities, this project 
can hopefully begin to stimulate much needed, serious dialogue 
that can advance positive change for and protection of Iraq's 
numerous, endangered n 

Field Research 

This first section focuses on the minority groups that reside or have 
taken refuge in Iraqi-Kurdistan. The rise of sectarianism in other 
parts of the country has reduced formerly mixed communities 
into Shia and Sunni enclaves. Many of the religious minorities 
cannot find protection in either of these and as a result have 
attempted either to flee the country or to move north to Iraqi- 
Kurdistan where religious identity is less of a determining factor 
in security. 

A total of five days were spent in Iraqi-Kurdistan where Prime 
Minister Barzani facilitated our visit and provided logistical 
support and security. We were free to travel and meet with anyone 
we requested; no officials were required to accompany us to 
these meetings. Numerous meetings were conducted with people 
displaced by the ongoing violence across Iraq; these included 
Mandaean families who had fled to Erbil in 2006 as well as 
Christian families that had fled to Ankawa from Mosul during the 
second peak of violence there in 2008. We also traveled to visit the 
Yezidi communities in Qal'at Shihan and Lalish. Meetings took 
place there with the Yezidi Mir (or prince) and the Baba Sheikh 
(or pope) as well as a visit to their holy temple in Lalish. 

Following our trip to Iraqi-Kurdistan, eight days were spent 
meeting with different representatives and displaced Iraqi minorities 
in Amman and Cairo. We met with several Iraqi families who had 
been forced to flee the country and have found refuge in Jordan. 
We also met with various officials from the United Nations, Iraqi 
Members of Parliament, as well as Iraqi leaders from inside and 
outside the existing political process in Iraq. 

A significant volume of information was received from many 
different sources during our research, all of which had to be 
independently verified before it was included in this chapter. 

Current Situation of Minorities 

All Iraqis are suffering but there are specificities to the case 
of minorities that put them at exceptional threat. It has been 
estimated that because of sectarianism and recent changes to 
Iraqi society, as many as 25-30 percent of the population have 
been forced to leave their homes and are either internally or 
externally displaced. However, for minorities the percentage of 
those displaced is actually much higher. More than 80 percent of 
the Mandaean population has been forced to flee; for Christians 
and other ethnic or religious groups, nearly 60 percent of their 
populations are displaced. 3 

Iraqi minorities are at risk of extinction. As one inter-faith expert 
we consulted stated, "when a Muslim is driven from his home, 
he usually plans on returning once the situation has stabilized; 
when a Christian or other minority leaves, they never want to 
come back." Sadly, the evidence collected to date would seem to 
support this view; the UNHCR states that in 2007 less than 1 
percent of the displaced were able to return, but even among this 
paltry number not a single minority person was counted. 4 

The situation of minorities has become worse as a result of the 
2003 Iraq war and subsequent occupation. The problems facing 
minorities, not just in Iraq but across the whole Middle East, 
have existed long before 2003. One example is the expulsion of 
the Faili Kurds from Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. However, the 
war and occupation have led to dangerous new changes to the 
local environment that have had a negative impact on the already 
tenuous situation of many of Iraq's minorities. The persistent 
climate of fear and insecurity as well as the entrenchment of 
sectarianism in the emerging Iraqi political process has spurred 
massive population displacement, sectarian strife and far-reaching 
instability. The situation in the country is so fragile that this 
instability threatens to spiral and engulf the entire region. 

Violence and displacement have been ongoing and constant 
in Iraq since 2003, but they reached two peaks that are worth 
mentioning, when large waves of people suffered multiple acts of 
violence and forced displacement. In 2006, the Sunni-Shia violence 

244 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

reached its peak and forced thousands of minority families to flee 
the ethnic cleansing that was taking place to create homogeneous 
Sunni and Shia neighborhoods, predominantly in and around 
Baghdad. This time saw most minorities across the country being 
forced to flee abroad or to the north. Later in 2008, a second 
wave of violence against Christians in Mosul saw thousands of 
Christian families flee the city and go to Iraqi-Kurdistan. During 
these periods, Iraq witnessed extensive displacement of people 
that fundamentally altered the demographic makeup of some 
parts of the country. It is important to note that these two waves 
of displacement in 2006 and 2008 were simply the peaks in the 
ebb and flow of constant violence; people continue to suffer from 
insecurity and violence at all times. 

The flight to Iraqi-Kurdistan of those minorities that cannot 
escape the country has created enormous pressure on the 
governance institutions within the Kurdish region. In particular, 
the government there struggles to provide protection and basic 
services to the large numbers of displaced that are fleeing towards 
its borders. One example is in basic education where minority 
groups have had difficulty finding spaces; we have been told by 
Kurdish officials that they have over 10,000 Kurdish students 
without spaces in schools. The lack of capacity makes it extremely 
challenging to provide basic services to the local population, let 
alone to tens of thousands of displaced people. 

Every minority group that was met with during our research was 
asked if they would stay in Iraq if the constitution offered equal 
citizenship to all Iraqis irrespective of their ethnic or religious 
affiliation; unanimously they said that they didn't believe it was 
possible in Iraq. Although they want to stay, the situation is too 
dangerous. For many, the only solution is to get out and settle in 
another country. In addition to the general despair and fear felt 
by these minorities, there were several specific problems that they 
all shared regardless of whether they were displaced internally in 
Iraq or externally in Jordan or elsewhere: 

• A lack of basic education opportunities for their children 

• A lack of access to universities 

A lack of access to employment opportunities 

A lack of integration into the broader community 

A very high level of frustration at the lack of interest from 

the outside about their s: 


The Yezidis are an excellent example of a specific group with 
some very specific concerns. They almost all live together in Iraqi- 
Kurdistan and the so-called disputed territories that border it; even 
though they are minorities at the regional or national level, they 
are majorities inside their own villages. This has meant that they 
have not been forced to leave their homes in the same percentages 
as other groups that are more thinly spread and exposed across 
Iraq, such as the Mandaeans or the Christians. 

However, this does not mean that they have escaped persecution. 
We were informed that, because of the violence from extremist 
groups, there have been no Yezidis left in Mosul since 2007. Unlike 
Christians who can pay a tax to stay in their homes, the Yezidis 
can only choose between conversion, expulsion, or execution. In 
2007, suspected al-Qaeda affiliated militants targeted Yezidis, 
shooting dead 23 on a bus and bombing several villages resulting 
in hundreds of deaths. 5 Many extremists consider the Yezidis devil 
worshippers and extremist imams have openly called for their 
killing if they refuse to convert. We were given a recording of 
Imam Mullah Farzanda making statements in his Friday sermon 
that it was the duty of good Muslims to kill all Yezidis in Iraq if 
they refused to convert to Islam. Despite their relative isolation and 
small numbers, extremists have made the Yezidis a direct target. 

According to their beliefs, Yezidis can only be baptized in 
their temple at Lalish; the temple is the center of their religion 
and critical to their religious rites. This explains their extreme 
attachment to their land. The social chaos that has spread 
throughout Iraq threatens to undermine this attachment and 
therefore their ability to practice their religion. In the village of 
Qal'at Shihan Yezidis have traditionally been the majority; now 
they are moving towards becoming a minority in their own village 

246 Cultural Cleans 

because of the huge influx of displaced peoples fleeing sectarian 
violence in other parts of the country. This new demographic 
balance is difficult for the Yezidis who have expressed anxiety 
about this new exposure to potentially hostile groups. 

The Yezidi community is also vulnerable because of their delicate 
demographic balance. Their religion does not allow intermarriage 
with non- Yezidis; even further, there is a caste system within the 
Yezidi faith that discourages marriage between the different castes. 
These strict rules around marriage for Yezidis, combined with 
their already small population, make the forced displacement of 
their people very harmful to the fragile demographic balance that 
sustains their numbers. 

Due to the already small size of their population, their 
attachment to their land, and their strictly closed ranks, the 
violence and dispersal they are enduring could lead to the 
extinction of this millennia old group. The Yezidis CIGI I spoke 
to want their unique cultural identity recognized and protected 
by the regional and national governments. In particular they want 
their religious places in Lalish and their villages protected. Because 
of their religious attachment to their land they do not want to 
leave; the best solution in their eyes is a secular government that 
will protect their rights equally to the rights of other groups. 


The Mandaeans also have some very specific concerns. Mandaeans 
are not concentrated in a few villages; until the outbreak of 
sectarian violence in 2006 they were spread across several urban 
centers in Iraq, particularly Baghdad. Their thin distribution made 
them especially vulnerable to sectarian violence between larger 
groups and they have fled the country by the tens of thousands; 
those that could not escape Iraq fled north and took refuge in 
Erbil. It is estimated that there were as many as 70,000 Mandaeans 
worldwide and most lived in Iraq before the 2003 war; less than 
5,000 now remain. 6 

Like the Yezidis, Mandaeans do not intermarry and their beliefs 
are considered heretical by the extremist groups who target them. 

Minorities in Iraq 247 

However, it is not only extremists who target Mandaeans; they 
have a reputation of being wealthier than ordinary Iraqis because 
many formerly traded in alcohol, jewelry and other profitable 
businesses. This has made them the target of criminal gangs 
conducting kidnappings for ransom. 7 

All of the Mandaean families that CIGI interviewed said that 
it was their strong desire to remain in Iraq but their security was 
too greatly endangered. They did not believe that a constitution 
based on equal citizenship would ever happen or that their security 
needs could be met in the short or medium term. They wanted 
help getting out of Iraq and settling in a safe country such as 
Australia or the United States. Their religion requires that they 
live near running water and conduct their baptisms there but the 
location of the river itself is not important; for them security is 
the primary concern. 

In discussion with Mandaean refugee groups in Jordan it was 
disclosed that approximately 650 Mandaean families have been 
forced to flee to Jordan and a further 2,100 to Syria. Of the 650 
families that fled to Jordan only 202 families remain; the rest have 
already relocated to the US and Australia. Of those 202 remaining 
families, 172 have already received approval to transfer to other 
countries and the remaining 30 are still waiting on their papers 
to transfer outside. 

One of their fears as a closed religious group is that they might 
be spread too thinly across the world and that their religion would 
simply disappear over time. They consider dispersion to be a 
threat to their existence and are trying to facilitate their emigration 
to one country as a group, so that they do not become overly 
separated. They would prefer to stay in Iraq, but failing that, they 
are trying to flee as a group to a safe place where they can practice 
their religion in security and maintain their identity. 

Twenty years ago, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians 
in Iraq; today there are fewer than 700,000. 8 Since the 2003 war, 

248 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Christians have faced ongoing violence that has peaked twice; 
the first in 2006 when sectarian violence reached its peak across 
the country and the second in 2008 when most were driven from 
Mosul to Ankawa and other parts of Iraqi-Kurdistan. Like the 
Mandaeans, Christians were spread thinly across Iraq and have 
been caught between larger extremist groups as they fought one 
another. Many Christians, like those in Mosul, reside within the 
so-called "disputed territories" and this has added an internal 
political dimension to their persecution. In several interviews 
Christians discussed how they had been assaulted, killed, forced 
to pay the jeziya, and in some cases had been threatened even after 
paying the tax. Most have tried to leave the country and those 
that cannot have taken refuge in Iraqi-Kurdistan. 

The Christian identity is not as homogeneous as some of the 
other Iraqi minority identities. Many Christians not only consider 
themselves a religion, but also as part of one of four distinct 
ethnicities as well; Chaldean, Assyrian, Armenian, or Syriac. 
Chaldeans follow an eastern right of the Catholic Church; Syriacs 
consider themselves Eastern Orthodox; Armenians are part of 
either the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches; and 
Assyrians are part of the Church of the East or Nestorian. Still 
other Christians consider themselves Arab-Christians, a religious 
minority but not a separate ethnicity. The Christian community 
is one of the largest of the minority communities in Iraq and it is 
difficult to achieve a consensus approach to their problems. 

Beyond the internal complexities of the Iraqi Christian identity, 
there is a strong external component in the powerful Christian 
diaspora communities in other states. These groups have helped 
to raise awareness about the circumstances of Christians in Iraq; 
however they have also added an international layer of complexity 
to the internal problems Iraqis face. In particular, the support 
foreign groups have given to politically contentious positions, such 
as the Nineveh plains proposal to create a separate autonomous 
region administered by and catering to minorities, has further 
complicated an already fragmented political scene. 

Minorities in Iraq 249 


The Turkmen are a distinct ethnic group; approximately 60 percent 
are Sunni, just fewer than 40 percent are Shia, and the remainder 
are Christians. Like the Christians of Mosul, the Turkmen also 
reside within the so-called "disputed territories" and have been 
put under pressure from several groups trying to gain political 
advantage over each other. Approximately 85 percent of their 
Iraqi population lives in the regions around Mosul, Kirkuk, Erbil 
and Tel Afar; the rest are in Baghdad and smaller villages, such 
as Tuz Khurmato. 9 

The Turkmen, like other ethnic minorities, did not have their 
unique culture recognized by past regimes. "Arabization" and 
"correction" campaigns refused to acknowledge the Turkmens' 

Presently, the Turkmen community finds itself at the center of one 
of Iraq's most contentious political questions, the fate of oil-rich 
Kirkuk. Some Turkmen support the Kurdish claim and would like 
to become a part of the Kurdistan region. Others strongly oppose 
this for fear of being assimilated into the Kurdish identity. They 
therefore oppose the creation of autonomous regions and favor a 
strong central government that respects their cultural heritage. As 
the major parties position themselves to seek maximum advantage 
against the others in this debate, the Turkmen community is often 
used by different internal and external parties without any regard 
for their own concerns. 

Other Minorities 10 

The minorities discussed above are just some of the many groups 
that make up Iraq's mosaic. Others not specifically mentioned 
include the Shabaks, Baha'is, Faili Kurds, and Kaka'is (Yaresan) 
among others. Our access to these groups was limited and some 
do not reside in the so-called "disputed territories." However, 
they share some of the same vulnerabilities as the other minority 
groups that we have discussed and they have an equal stake in 
the evolution of a national identity in Iraq that is based on equal 
citizenship, n 

250 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Like other groups they have been targeted because of their ethnic 
or religious identity and forced to leave their homes as majority 
communities try to create religious and ethnically homogeneous 
enclaves. The toll that violence has taken on these groups is 
similar to that of the other minorities covered in this chapter. 
The Shabaks are mostly located within the so-called "disputed 
territories" of Mosul and the Nineveh plain; like the Christians 
and Turkmen who also reside there, they have been caught in 
the violent political gamesmanship between majority parties 
over territory. Both the Shia Shabak and the Shia Turkmen have 
endured a lot of suffering from al-Qaeda from 2006 to 2008 in 
the areas around Mosul. The Baha'i religion is still not recognized 
by the majority of Middle East governments and they have no 
right to express their identity. The Faili Kurds, who experienced 
expulsion during the Anfal campaign, are still struggling to return 
to their expropriated homes. 

All these problems have at their root the lack of a common 
Iraqi identity. A governance approach is needed that emphasizes 
equal citizenship based on respect for human rights, not sectarian 
affiliation. Ultimately an equal national identity is the only long- 
term solution that can address all the problems raised by Iraq's 
minorities. Unfortunately, this approach has not been adopted 
by the major political and religious parties, and governance 
challenges have grown worse over time. 

Governance Challenges 

The relations between the various Iraqi political or religious 
groups are marred by a high level of mistrust. Since the future 
is so uncertain, all groups are making maximum demands to 
try to ensure that their minimum objectives are met; however, 
this approach is causing more problems than it solves for all 
concerned. Numerous meetings with politicians confirmed the 
highly politicized nature of the issues surrounding minorities. 

Each party is trying to use these issues to condemn other 
parties. Their competing political demands make the situation 
even worse for minorities because many of them live in the so- 

called "disputed territories." Minorities in Iraq are the v 

not only of sectarianism and extremism but of competing political 

agendas; their displacement is a consequence of both. 

All parties are essentially reacting instead of acting and this 
has had profoundly negative consequences. There is little regard 
for the deep level of suffering that these minority communities 
are facing; rather than seeking to address the root causes of their 
misery, major political parties are using this suffering to advance 
their own political agendas. 

Minorities have been caught in between; their identity receiving 
only limited or conditional recognition as they are first told that 
they are in fact Arab, or that they are Kurd, or that they must 
change their religion depending on the political demands of 
the majority group at any given time. The rising influence of 
religious political parties does not make Iraq's minorities any more 
optimistic that the future Iraq will recognize and fully respect their 
identities and treat them equally to the majority communities. 

This situation in Iraq stands in stark contrast to the United 
Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two clauses 
stand out in particular: 

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person 
Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and 

Furthermore, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights 
of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly 
in September 2007, clearly lays out numerous protections for 
indigenous cultures in Article 8: 

1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected 
to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. 

2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress 

(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their 
integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic 

252 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of 
their lands, territories or resources; 

(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect 
of violating or undermining any of their rights; 

(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; 

(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or 
ethnic discrimination directed against them. 

It is clear that none of these conventions is being respected in Iraq 
today. Minorities in particular are constantly under threat and, 
while immediate violence may be down temporarily, the central 
government has thus far proved incapable of dealing with the root 
causes of this discrimination. This leaves a significant likelihood 
that violence will resume in the not too distant future, particularly 
as contentious questions are addressed such as the fate of regional 
boundaries and the future return of some of the displaced. No 
solution can provide lasting security if it does not strive for the 
human rights protections expressed by these UN conventions. 

In this context, the debate about Article 50 of the Iraqi 
Constitution has been a flashpoint for anxieties relating to the 
place of minorities in the Iraqi political system and society. Article 
50 provided for minimum representation of minorities in elected 
positions to the provincial governments; it was removed from 
the provincial election laws in the lead up to the referendum to 
ratify the law. This prompted a huge backlash from minority and 
international groups. Ultimately, the President of Iraq intervened 
personally to ensure its reinstatement into the law. The fact that 
this controversy occurred in the midst of ongoing violence against 
religious and ethnic minorities sent a powerful signal to those 
groups that the majority parties are not interested in their well- 
being. This crisis over the election law risked pushing minorities 
out of the political process and leaving them with only very limited 
or symbolic representation at a time when they are threatened 

The debate surrounding Article 50 should at best be a temporary 
one. The best protection is equal, non-sectarian citizenship. 
Legislation that provides quotas for each minority should only 

serve as a temporary measure until equality is achieved. This 
is to say that every Iraqi, regardless of his or her religious or 
ethnic background, should be free to strive for any position within 
the political process and not be limited to seats set aside for 
specific groups. 


All Iraqis are caught in multiple and contradictory narratives 
about violence and victimhood. The US occupation and its 
mistakes that have led to the destruction of the fragile Iraqi social 
tissue and the new political class in Iraq is not yet in a conciliatory 
mood. Its posture is still essentially reactive in an atmosphere of 
total mistrust. This atmosphere is complicated by two emerging 
trends: first, the ongoing and unsustainable fragmentation within 
the political and social arena has reached a point where it is 
impossible to even identify all the actors; second, the narrow 
focus of the major parties on consolidating their power bases 
rather than adhering to a real national process of reconciliation, 
the only guarantee for the future of Iraq. 

If nothing is done, the extremist danger from one side could 
lead to the extermination of some of these minorities as well 
as the destruction of the millennia-old cultural heritage of the 
Mesopotamian civilization. On the other side, the emergence of 
religious parties as the main political actors in the new Iraq has 
left minorities in a very insecure situation and casts doubt on the 
current government's ability or willingness to address any of these 
new challenges alone. 

The solution cannot be only partial. It cannot seek to address the 
minority issue without putting it in the broader frame that is the 
Iraqi national crisis, the historically fragile position of minorities 
in Iraq, the catastrophic consequences of the US invasion and the 
resulting destruction of the Iraqi social tissue. The way forward 
must also take into consideration the dangers inherent in the 
present situation as well as the conflicting agendas of both internal 
and external actors. 

254 Cultural Cle 

The transition to a new US administration based on promised 
change may offer a possibility of sober reflection on previous 
US policy towards Iraq. This change in the US administration 
may present a tangible opportunity to implement much needed 
corrections that can more effectively address the whole Iraqi 
crisis, including a real effort towards national reconciliation. 
Consequently, the issues of minorities could be better managed. 

For all these reasons, the establishment of an independent 
international monitoring committee would be a helpful first 
step in addressing these complications and in bringing forward 
practical and constructive proposals. A committee comprised only 
of Iraqi actors would be limited by the conflicting agendas and 
mistrust that permeate the present atmosphere. This international 
monitoring committee would have to be made up of very senior 
figures known for their professionalism and credibility that would 
have easy access to the key decision-makers locally, regionally, 
and internationally. 

The complexities associated with the Iraqi crisis continue to 
multiply at an exponential rate; the standard mechanisms are 
proving unable to address this crisis in a fashion that can lead 
to a durable solution that will correct the current situation and 
also be acceptable to all actors. It goes without saying that the 
extinction of Iraqi minorities is not only a tragedy for them or a 
loss for Iraq, but for all mankind. 


1 . This chapter draws from a special report of the Centre for Inter- 
national Governance Innovation, a Canadian-based, independent, 
nonpartisan think tank that addresses international governance 

2. Kathryn Westcott, "Iraq's Rich Mosaic of People," BBC News, 
February 27, 2003, 
stm, accessed December 2008. 

3. Preti Taneja, "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's Minority 
Communities since 2003," Minority Rights Group International,, accessed December 

4. UNHCR, "Second Rapid Assessment of Return of Iraqis from 
Displacement Locations in Iraq and from Neighbouring Countries," 
February 2008, p. 13, 
pdf/$File/full_chapter.pdf, accessed December 2008. 

5. "Iraq Bomb Toll Reaches 344," BBC News, August 17, 2007, http://, accessed December 

6. Angus Crawford, "Iraq's Mandaeans Face Extinction," BBC News, 
March 4, 2007, 
stm, accessed December 2008. 

7. Taneja, "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication.' 1 

8. Phebe Marr, introduction to I; iq • Rej ugcc and IDP Crisis: Human 
Toll and Implications, Washington, DC: Middle East Institute,, 
accessed December 2008. 

9. Gilles Munier, "Les Turcomans Irakiens: un people oublie ou 
marginalise," he blog de France-Irak Actualite, May 31, 2007,, 
accessed December 2008. 

10. Some intensive analysis of the humanitarian crisis facing a broad 
range of Iraqi minority groups has been undertaken by Minority 
Rights Group International. Those desiring more detailed 
background information regarding specific humanitarian issues 
relating to a broad range of Iraqi minorities should consult Taneja, 
"Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication." 



Faris K.O. Nadhtni 

Spinoza (1632-1677) wrote in hopeful insight: "A free man 
scarcely thinks of death, because his wisdom is to contemplate 
life, not death." But what if death thinks of the free man non-stop, 
follows him in the city streets, lurks in the ally next to his home, 
comes out even in his sleep and deepest apprehensions, while 
he is keeping to his room, wondering if life has any meaning? 
What if a whole nation waits in a queue with an invisible end, 
but with a guillotine at the beginning, going up and down with 
the time pendulum? 

Is it a universal irony or psycho-historic that the "death 
anxiety" is connected with "eternity anxiety" for the Iraqis, and 
with the tragic search for a coherent explanation of the existence- 
annihilation absurdum? When Gilgamesh found out he is two 
thirds god and one third human destined to die, like his friend 
Enkido, he sadly said: 

Death frightened me, so I wandered aimlessly about, 
If I die, would not my destiny be like Enkido's, 
To Otonabishtim, I took the way, and hurried 
To ask about the life-death enigma! 

Death Psychology 

Apart from death essence, its religious or philosophical root, 
whether it is annihilation or a face of another life, modern 

258 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

psychology has dealt with death as "total stopping of consciousness 
or feeling, the brain stops its work as a maestro of all lower 
sense and movement, and upper mind functions," there is the 
human response to death, studied clinically and on the ground, 
the responses of those who lost a supporter or a loved one. 
These responses can be sadness and mourning, or depression 
and suicide, explaining the movement and feelings phenomenon 
which accompany these responses, its effect on psychological, 
body, and professional health, their negative attitudes to death, 
what in general we call "death anxiety." Dickstein defined it as 
"conscious contemplation in the reality of death, and the negative 
estimation of this reality." 

Some psychoanalysts went further. Melanie Klein found that the 
fear of death is the origin of all anxieties, the root of all human 
aggressive behaviors. Freud (1856-1939) wrote on death and war: 
"we can not really imagine our death, and if we do, we do it as 
living audience...." For this reason, Freud concluded that deep 
inside, man has an unconscious feeling and belief in eternity. 

Death anxiety has three dimensions: fear of dying, fear of what 
happens after death, and fear of life stopping. On the other hand, 
four aspects of death could be distinguished: fear of death of the 
ego, dying of ego, others' death, and others dying. Accordingly, 
four independent factors were generated: fear of the unknown, 
suffering, loneliness, and personal vanishing. 

Death Anxiety in Iraq 

These four aspects and factors of the psychology of death anxiety 
have now become the most impressing phenomenon in the Iraqi 
reality; indeed we can say that most daily life details were diverted 
and deformed in their biological, social, and psychological contents 
to suit the idea of death's inevitability and its overwhelming 
dominion. The Iraqi individual, no matter what of what class or 
affiliation, realizes that the highest or most precious goal of life 
becomes just "to survive," "not to die," instead of "to live," with 
full realization that death means assassinations, explosions, and 
rains of stray bullets. 

Appendix 1 259 

The educated and the technocrat are among the first who 
look for ways "not to die." It is extremely difficult to get precise 
numbers, but events and studies indicate that medical doctors 
and academics are especially targeted. In a report for Human 
Rights Watch in November 2005, some academics explained 
that it is a way of eliminating the educated elite in Iraq. One 
vice president of an Iraqi university said "the victims are among 
different scientific interests, political directions, and religious 
sects, the only thing common among them is their distinguished 
scientific achievement. I think this is a plan to evacuate Iraq of 
its scientific backbone." 

According to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, between April 2003 
and June 2006, 720 medical doctors and health professionals 
were killed. Other unofficial estimations said that 2,000 Iraqi 
doctors emigrated from the country fleeing from killing and 

According to a previous study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, 
by April 2005, 160-300 Iraqi medical doctors were kidnapped 
by armed groups which killed 25. Up to that date, 1,000 doctors 
left the country, an average of 30 monthly. 

In a statement of the "Voices of Iraq" news agency, the head of 
the Association of University Teachers in Iraq said that by summer 
2006, 172 university teachers had been killed. However, if we add 
the numbers of lecturers and the consultants, it would exceed 300. 
This number does not include the medical doctors, engineers, 
religious teachers with higher degrees in religious studies. 

Dr. Ismail Al-Jalili, a medical consultant, indicated in a study 
presented at the April 2006 Madrid International Conference 
on the Assassinations of Iraqi Academics that statistics show 
that 80 percent of the assassinations targeted people working 
in the universities, and that half of them are either professors or 
professor assistants, that half of the assassinations happened in 
Baghdad university, a third of them were in Basra, then Mosul 
and Al-Mustansiriya University. The study mentioned that 62 
percent of the assassinations were PhDs. 

One third of them are specialized in natural sciences and 
medicine, 17 percent are practicing doctors, and three quarters 

260 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

of those who were exposed to attempted assassination were 
actually killed. This "systematic" killing confirms Dr. Jalili's belief 
that these assassinations and kidnappings are similar to the El 
Salvador death squads, which was in fact, a series of assassinations 
supervised by the CIA in many Latin American countries. 

Without going into analyzing the political and security 
dimensions, these data and statistics present a primary indicator 
of the destructive psychological impacts that anxiety causes 
university professors because of kidnapping and killings. Studies 
done in relatively stable eastern and western societies show that 
death anxiety is in direct proportion with depression, unsociability, 
over sensitivity, tension, obsessions, phobias; but it is in contrary 
proportion with self confidence, social skills, extroversion, 
endurance, self respect, self accomplishment, positive attitude to 
one's self, strong ego, sense of the purpose of life. 

Other studies show that the more intelligent a person is, the 
less he is frightened of death, that the middle class are more afraid 
of dying pains, that the more educated a person is the less he is 
afraid of death, and that women are more afraid of death than 
men. There is no agreement on the relation between death anxiety 
and age or religion. 

As a pioneer contribution in investigating the psychological 
paths that death anxiety would take within the Iraqi educated 
personality, we established 15 questions with a choice of 5 
answers ranging between "totally agree" and "totally disagree," 
and gave it to the Baghdad and Mustansiriya university professors, 
who all had an MA, MSc, or PhD and were of varying ages 
and scientific degrees (professor, assistant professor, teacher and 
assistant teacher). The results were as follows: 

• All professors suffer death anxiety 

• Afraid of painful death (91 % ) 

• Thinking of death of loved ones (81%) 

• Afraid of body deterioration that accompanies slow death 

• Worried about dying very painfully (69%) 

• Feeling that death is everywhere (66%) 

• Terrified of seeing a dead body {66%) 

• Obsession with getting killed any minute (66%) 

• Thinking of my personal death (53%) 

• Prefer not to attend a dying friend (53%) 

• Would avoid death no matter what it takes (50%) 

• Think of death directly before going to bed (47%) 

• Death is better than a painful life (38%) 

• Feel closer to death than to life (31%) 

• Extremely afraid to die (31%) 

• Terrified by the idea of decomposition after death (28%) 


Death anxiety is spread among this sample of Iraqi university 
professors, regardless of age and scientific degree which signifies 
that its effect is widely spread. Women were more worried about 
death than men. This result is consistent with the psychological 
literature mentioned above which says that women feel less secure; 
hence their death anxiety is higher. Gender rules, too, demand 
that men should be "brave" and not show fear or anxiety in this 
sense. In addition to that, women's death anxiety is related to 
themselves personally and to their husbands. 

The fear of dying painfully is high among the sample 
individuals, as is their fear of the death of loved ones, signifying 
the psychological agony and tense feeling of threat that a professor 
has on his way from home to class. 

More than two thirds of the sample have anxiety of painful 
death or of seeing a dead body, in addition to compulsive thoughts 
that death is surrounding them and that they could be exposed to 
death at any minute. This signifies that obsessive and oppressive 
elements are pervading the university professors' thinking. 

One quarter to half of the sample's thoughts were centered on 
avoiding death, thinking of it, fearing it, and how close they are 
to it, signifying a relative carelessness about the conventional 
concept of death if mentioned without the idea of pain and threat 
of killing. 

262 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

The essential task of the academic personality is to create life 
in its highest aims, beginning with lectures, scientific research, 
whether theoretical or inside laboratories or in the field, and 
to accumulate the eternal truths in the human mind library. Is 
it possible for such a creator of life to coexist with deep and 
objective anxiety of assassination and death pain? 

Today, the Iraqi situation proves that death anxiety does not 
dissuade Iraqi university academics from their deep civilized 
awareness that desperately defending life culture is the only 
effective way to pull out death's treacherous fangs, and to 
rehabilitate the concept of "eternity" as an alternative to all 
cultures of annihilation and elin 



The following table is an edited version of the list maintained 
by the BRusselk Tribunal, originally based on data provided by 
the Iraqi Association of University Teachers. The full BRussells 
Tribunal list can be viewed at 
pdf/academicsBT151108.pdf. The list includes some teachers, 
medical professionals and government officials who, though not 
strictly defined as academics, were felt to fall within the broader 
terms of an assault on Iraq's educational base. Efforts have been 
made to eliminate duplications, though some may remain due to 
variation in the translation of Arabic names. Due to the difficulty 
of reporting, it is almost certain that the list, though the best we 
have, is incomplete. 


I 11 , • , 

Aalim Abdul ! Iamecd 

Abbas Kadhem Al- 

! Sashimi 
Abbass al- Attar 
Abbas al- Attar 

Abdel Al Munim Abdel 


VI di 1 Gani \ , , , 'dun 
Abdel Husein Jabuk 

Abdel Jabar Al Xainii 

Abdel Salam Saba 

Dean of Medic 


Professor Dr., Baghdad Baghdad 


Professor in Humanities Baghdad 

Prof . 01 md specialisi L> igh I id 

in gynaecology 

Lecturer Basra 

Mustansiriya Unknc 

Doctor and professor 
Dean of College of 
Professor of Sociology 
Lecturer in College of 

264 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Abdul Aziz El-Atrachi 

Professor in College of 



Agriculture and Forest! \ 

Abdul Azizi Jassem 

College of Islamic 




Abdul Hadi Al-Anni 

Consultative Doctor 



Abdul Rahman saed 

University Professor 



: \bJu! Sameia al-Janab 

i Professor in Education 



Abdul Yabar Mustafa 

D( an of the facuhx of 
political sciences 



Ahlam Alghureri 

Professor of 




Ahmad Abdl-Hadi Al- 

Lecturer in College of 



Rawi and his wife 


Ahmad Abdul- 

Lecturer in College of 



\bahmai] luuncid Al- 



Ahmad Abdul Raziq 

PhD in medicine 



Aki Thakir Alaany 

Professor in the faculty 
of literature 



Akil Abdel Jabar al- 

Deputy dean of 




medicine college 

Ali Abdul-Hussein 

Professor of physics 




Ali al-Maliki 




Amir al-Mallah 




Amir Mizlnr al-Da\ ni 

Professor of 




Ammar Al-ani 

PhD in medicine 



Aziz Ali 

Dean of law 

department, chairman 
of Red Crescent Society 



Basil al-Karkhi 

Professor of chemistry 



Bassam Kubba 

Advisor at the Ministry 
of Interior 



Emad Sarsam 

Professor in medicine 



Fadel Trad Alyasari 

School principal at 
Kerbala School 



Faidhi al-Faidhi 

Professor of social 



Falah Al-Dulaimi 

Assistant Dean 




endix2 265 





Faysal Al Assadi 

Professor at the College 
of Agronomy 



I i ,1 V ii h ii 




Galib I atccf Ai Zuhair 

Sheikh, teacher and 
religious scholar 



Hafez Al-hafez 




Haidar al Ba'aj 

Director of educational 



i Iaiclar Tahcr 

Professor at the College 
of Medicine 



Haithem Ooda 

Deputy head of 
chemical engineering 



i ' ii 1 ! bahdawi Unk n 



1 lazini Abdul ! ladiTac 

Professor in medicine 



Hisham Charif 

Head of Department of 




Hussam Al-Ddin 
Ahmad Mahmmoud 

Chairman of the College Mustansiriya 

of Education 


( lussam al-Din Juma' 

Professor of agriculture 



Ibrahim Al-rashed 

Ministn of Science and 



Ihsan Abed Ali Rabiei 

Deputy dean of 
medicine college 



Ihsan Karim Alghazi 

Directorate i;t Financial 
Control Bureau 



Imad Nasir Al-foadi 

Faculty of political 



Iman Younis 

Head of translation 



Isam Said Abd al- 

( reological expert at the 
Ministn of 



Ismacl Yousef 

Deputy at the appeal 



Jafar Sadeq Naqeeb 




Jalil Ismail Abd al- 

Professor of physics 



Jameel Aboud al 

School principal 



Jasim Abdul Kareem 

Professor of humanities 



Jasim Mohemed 

Dean of College of 




266 Cultural Cleans 





Jawad Ashakraji 




Kadhem Asaydae 

Vice Dean, faculty of 



Kamal al-Jarrah 

General Manager at 

Ministry of Education 


Karim Ghayith Daina 

Practicing lawyer 



Karim I Iassani 

Lecturer at the ( College 
of Medicine 



Khalid Ibrahim Sa'id 

Professor of engineering 



Khalid M. al-Janabi 

Professor of Islamic 



Khalid Shrieda 

Dean of the Engineering 


Kilan Mahmud Ramez 

Professor of political 



Laith Abdul Aziz 

Sciences college 



Maha Abdel Kadira 

Lecturer at College of 



Majeed Hussein Ali 

Professor of physics 



Makki Dashar 

( rharbaw i 




Marwan al-Rawi 

Professor of engineering 



Marwan Rasheed 

Vice Dean of 
Engineering College 




Unknou n 

Mehned Al-Dulaimi 

Lecturer in mechanical 



Mohamad Abd Al 
Husein Wahed 

Lecturer at the Institute 
of Administration 



Mohamad Al Adramli 

PhD in chemical 



Mohamad Al Hakim 

Dean of College of 



Mohamad Kasem 

Professor of engineering 



\i in ] 11 ' i 1 1 i i 



Mohammed Al- 


Expert at the Iraqi 
atomic agency 



Mohammed Ali Jawad 

Dean of Law Faculty 



Mohammed Al-Kissi 




Mohammed Falah Al- 
t') ulaimi 

Lecturer in physical 



Appendix 2 267 

Mohammed Munim al 

- Professor of chemistry 



Mohammed Yaqoub Al Unknown 



Mohammed Yaqoub 




Mouloud Hassan 

Professor of theology of 


Albardar Aturki 

the faculty Al Imam Al 

Mudher al-Ani 

Faculty of medicine 


Muhannad Abbas 

l : acult\ member ar the 



Technology University 


Muhannad Al-Dilami 

Faculty member 




Muhey Hussein 

Faculty member of the 


mechanical engineering 




Muneer al-Khiero 

Professor of law 


Mustapha al- 

Professor of religious 




Nafia Aboud 

Professor of Arab 


Najim Karboul 

School principal 


Al\ asari 

Xazar Abdul Amir Al 




Noel Butrus S. Mathew Professor at the Institute Mosul 

of Health 

Omer Fakhri 

Professor of biology 


Qusai Salah Deen 

Head of students 


Raad okhssin Al-binow Lecturer in College of 



Reyad Khalid Waleed 

Electronics engineer 


Saad Alrubaiee 



Sabah bahnam 

Ministry of Interior 


Sabah i lachim Yaber 

Professor at Technical 


Sabah Hashim 

Teacher at the 

Administration Institute 


268 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Sadiq Al-Baaj 

1 )irector of the militari 
hospital, Annasereya 



Sadiq al-Ubaidi 




Sahera Mohammed 

Technology University 





Salah Bandar 

School principal, al 
Kindi Preliminary 



Shaker falah Hasan 

Engineer at Soutli (.az 


Shakier al-Khafaji 

Professor of 
administration; Dirt ctot 
of the Standardization 
and Quality Control 



Shakir Mahmmoud 

Assistant professor in 
College of Agriculture 



Suhad al-Abadi 

Ph; sician 



Tamer Abdulateef 

( reneral manager at 
N linistry of Science :<\u} 



Yaddab Al-Hajjam 

Lecturer at the College 
of Education 



Zanubia Abdel Husein 

Lecturer at the ( College 

of Veterinary Medicine 



Wajeeh Mahjoub 

General director of 

phi sical education at 
the Ministry of 



Khalid Faisal Hamid 

Assistant professor in 




College of Physical 

Mohammed Falah Ali 

Vice Dean of the 




College of Science 

Sabah Mahmoud al- 

Dean of the College of 





Ghassab jabber Attar 

Assistant lecturer in 
( lollege of Engineering 



Rah Sarcissan Vatican 

Lecturer in the College 
of Women's Education 



Mohammed Najccb Al 

- Assistant professor in 




research department 

Human Al-Din Ahman 

Head of department 




Appendix 2 269 

Mohammed Abdallab 

President of Baghdad 



Falah al-Rawi 


Haifa Alwan Al-Hill 

Lecturer in the College 
of Science for Women 



Abdullah al-Fedhil 

Professor of chemistr) 



Asaad Salem abdul 

Dean of the Engineering 

; Basra 


qader Shrieda 


Essam Sharif 

cant ] 

Baghdad Art 



College of Arts 


Abdul Sattar Jeid Al- 

Professor of 




microbiology at the 
veterinary faculty 

Aixiul wahab Salman 




Nafeaa Mahmoud 

Professor in College of 





Amal Maamlaji 

IT professor at al- 
Mansour University 



Adel Jabar Abid 

Dean of political sciena 

; Mosul 



Mohammed Abd- 

Lecturer in 



AlHussein Wahed 

Administrable Institute 


Abdul-Latif al-Mayab 

Chairman of the 
research department 



Mohammed younis 

Assistant lecturer in 




College of Physical 

Husein Yasin 

Lecturer in sciences 



Majeed Hussein 

Assistant professor of 





Marwan G. Mudh'hir 

Professor of chemical 






Saadi \hmad Zidaan 

Lecturer in Islamic 




Science College 

Ali Ghalib Abd-Ali 

Assistant lecturer in 
College of Engineering 



Kefaia Hussein Salih 

1 ecturer in College of 



Qahtan Ivadhim i latim 

Assistant lecturer at 
College of Engineei ing 



Sabri Mustapha al- 

Professor of gcographx 




270 Cultural Clean 

sing in Iraq 





Lyla Abdullah al-Saad 

Dean of the Law 



l itluil Mil' i hi - ' ii 

Professor in College of 




Physical Education 

Bassem al-Mudares 

Professor of chemistr) 



Saadi Dagher Morab 

College of Fine Arts 



Ismail Al-Kilabi 

Head of the 

Mamouduvali Teachers 



Aamir Ibrahim i lamza 

Assistant lecturer, 
Engineering College 



Mohamed Salih Mahdi 

Assistant lecturer in 



( dancer Research ( 'elite; 

■ Engineering 

Eman Abd-Almonaom 

Lecturer in College of 





Mahmoud Ibrahim 

Assistant professor in 




College of Education 

Mohammed Tuki 

Nuclear scientist 



Hussein al-Talakani 

7.jk: jabar 1 aftab Al- 

Assistant lecturer in 




veterinary medicine 

Khali] Ismail 

Assistant professor m 




College of Physical 

Faidhy al Faidhy 

Religious scholar 



Qassem Muhawi 

General manager of 

Ministry of 


i lassan 




Muwafaq Yaha 

Deputy Dean of 



i lamcloun 

Agricultural College 

Mahfoudh al-Qazzaz 

Professor of Islamic 




Talcb Ibrahim al-Dahci 

: Professor of physics 



Hassan Abd-Ali 

Dean of the College of 



Dawood Al-Rubai 

1 )cntistr\ 

Omar Mahmoud 

Retired pharmacist 




Madloul al-Bazi 




Ahmed Nassir Al- 

Professor of education 




Ahmed Saadi Zaidan 

Professor of education 



I larcfh Abdul Jabbar 

Graduate student, 



' , I: : 

Engineering College 

Seif Zaki Saadi 




Wannas Abdulah Al- 

Professor of education 




Wa'adullah Abdulqade 

r Professor 



Natiq Sabri Hasan 

Head of agricultural 

mechanics department 



Basscm I labib Salman 

Medicine College 

Mustansiri) a 


Hussam Karyaqoush 

Professor ar Medicine 





Fouad Abrahim 

Head of German 

!> i 1 i i, 


Mohammed Al-Bavati 


Naef Sultan Saleh 




Raad Abdul-Latif Al- 

Ministry of Higher 




Education and Scientific 

Abdl-Hussein Nasir 

PhD in Research Center 




of Date Palm 

Basil Abbass Hassan 

Professor of medicine 


Abdulla Sahcb Younis 

Specialist doctor, 
Anoaman Hospital 



Kadum Allwash 

General manager of 
Karama Hospital 



Mustapha Mohammed 

Dean ot the Pharmacy 



Amin Al-Hitti 


Sami Aymen 

Specialist in the field of 
malignant and chronic- 



Sinan Mu'yad 

Hamdanya town 



Reda Refat Amin 

Doctor of medicine 



Qasim Mohammed Al- 





Abdul Hussein Nasir 




Musa Saloum Al Ameer Vice Dean of Education 

Mustansiri) a 



Abdul As Satar Sabar 

PhD in history 



A' Ivhazraji 

Abdul Sattar Sab'ar Al- 

Professor of engineering 




Jassim Al-Issawi 

Professor of law 







272 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Jumhour Karim 

Arabic language 



Alaa Daud Salman 

Professor of history 



Ala':i Dawood Salman 

Assistant scientific 



Damen Hussien Al- 

Professor of law 



Mojbil Achaij Issa Al 

Lecturer in mtcrnationa 

1 Tikrit 


Hakim Malik Al 

Lecturer of Arabic 




Jamhour Karim 
Kammas Al Zargani 

Department head at the 
College of Education 



Adel Jabar Abid 


Chairman of science 



Wissam Al-Hashimi 

Chairman of Arab 
Geologists Union; senio 



Hashim Abdul Kareem 

Lecturer in College of 



Samir yield Gerges 

Vice dean in 
Administration and 
Economy College 



Zaki Thakir Alaany 

Lecturer in College of 



Abdul latif Attai 




Mohammed Al-mash 

Member of National 
Dialogue Committee 



Mawlood Hassan 
Albarbar Alturki 

Professor of Islamic 



Umran Hamed 




Mustafa Al Hity 

Faculty member at the 
College of Medicine 



Jasim al-Fahaidawi 

Lecturer in Arabic 



Mohammed Al Jazairi 

Facult) member al the 
College of Medicine 



Raad Muhsm Mutar a! 

! Faculty membei at the 
College of Science 



Amir Al Khazragi 

Faculty member at the 
College of Medicine 



i laikal Mohammed al- 
Moosaw y 

Faculty member at the 
El-Kendi Medicine 



Raad Shlash 

Head of the Biology 



Saad Yasccn a! - \nsarv 

l : acult\ member at the 
College of Science 



Kaclhim Talal i Iusain 

Vice Dean of the 
College of Education 

Mustansiri) a 


Abdel Xiajed Hamed 
al-Kai boli 




Hamed Faisal Antar 

Lecturer in the College 
of Law 



Kadhum Mashhut 

Dean of agriculture 

race lt\ 



Mohammed Fathi 


Directorate of roads am 

i Unknown 


Firas Anoaimi 

PhD in medicine, Al 
Falluja Hospital 

Unl< now ii 


Omar Miran 




Mohsin Sulaimaii Al- 

Professor at the 
Agriculture College 



tai Ah n 1 I 11 

Professor of the Instituti 
of Fine Arts 

.- Baghdad 


Youssef Salman 

Engineering professor 



Abdullah Hamed Al- 

Vice Dean of the 
College of Medicine 



Naser Abdel Karem 
Mejlef al-Dulaimi 

Physics professor 



Nasar Al Fadhawi 


Al Anbar 


Atheer Husham Abdul- 

1 la meed 

Veterinary surgeon 



Abdulrazzaq Al-Xaas 

Political analyst 



Haitham Al-Azzawi 

Teacher from the 
Islamic University 



Abdul Qadir Miran 




Bassem al-Muddaris 

Professor of philosophy 



Fuad Al-Dajan 

Lecturer in gynaecolog) 



Saad Al-Shahin 




Yasoob Sulaiman 

Skin specialist 



AH i Iusain Muhaw In 1 ! 

Dean of Engineering 



I : aiz (ihani Aziz allousi 

1 )irector-general of the 
Vegetable Oil Company 



Khalil Ibrahim Al- 





274 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Kays 1 Iussam Al Den 

Professor of agriculture 



Kazini Burin Zahir ab 





Salah Abdul-Aziz 





Darb Muhammad Ak 

Director of the Ear, 



Mousau i 

Nose and Throat center 

Abdul Kai ini 1 lussein 

Professor of agriculture 




Kascm Mohamad Ad 

Lecturer in psychology 




! .aitli Muhsin 




Mis (surname 





Salam Ali Husein 




Bashshar Hassan 

Doctor of veterinary 



Abdul Salam Ali Al- 





Mais ( uincm Malmuid 




Meshhin Hardan 




Madhlom \l Dulaimy 

Mohamad Abdul 

Lecturer at the ( College 



Rahman Al Ani 

of Law 

Satar Jabar Akool 

I ectnrer 



Hussain Al Sharifi 

Professor of urinary 



Fadhel Izzildeen Al- 





Waled Kamel 




Sulaiman Jadaan al- 

Director of Al-Skaikhan 




I lospitah neai Mosul 

Qassim Mohammed 

Psychology teacher 



Khalaf al-Jumaili 

'Professor of Islamic law 

,\; kallujab 


Riadh Abbas Saleh 

Lecturer at Centre for 
International Studies 



Hamed Faisal Antar 

Professor of physical 



Khawla Mohammad 

1 ecturer at College of 



Taqi Zu ain 


Ali Hasan Mauch 

Dean of Engineering 



Appendix 2 275 

Adnan Abbas al- 

( Consultant orthopaedic 





Abbas Al Amery 

Head of Department of 

Administration and 



Riyad Abbas Salih al 

Academic researcher 




Ali Ahmed Hussein 

Professor. Engineering 



Sabah al-Jaf 

Official at the Education 



Jasim Fiadh Al- 

i 1 i \ 

Mustansiri) a 



Majid Jasim Al Janabi 

Technology College 



Nabil Hujazi 

Lecturer at the College 
of Medicine 



Ahmad Abdulkader 

Professor at the College 




of Science 

Ahmad Abdul Wadir 

Professor of chemistr) 




Hani Aref Al-Dulaimy 

Lecturer in the 



department of computer 

College of 



Kasem Yusuf Yakub 

Head of mechanical 
engineering department 



Muthana Harith Jassin 

t Professor 



Modhaer Zayed Al- 





Hadi Muhammad 

Lecturer in the 



Abub Al Obaidi 

department of surgery 

Hamza Shenian 

Professor of veterinai j 



Jassim Mohama Al- 

Professor of political 





Amira al-Rubaie 

Professor at the College 
of Medicine 


July 2006 

Name unknown 



University of 


Barak Farouk 


i > i g 1 1 . 1 id 


Noel Petros Shammas 

Lecturer at the Medical 





Shukur Arsalan 

Professor at the faculty 
of medicine 

B a g 1 i d i < 1 


276 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Ali al-Kafif 




Adil al-Mansuri 

Professor at the College 
of Medicine 



Kanm al-Saadi 

1 ecturer 



Mohamed al-Tamimi 

Head of the College of 



Uday al-Beiruti 




Muhammad Abbas 

I lead of the computer 



Kreem Slman Al- 
Hamed Al-Sadey 

Professor in the 

department of Arabic 



Ahmed Abdul Qadil 

Specialist in breast 



Khalid Ibrahim Mousa 

Professor at the faculty 



Sluikir Mahmoud As- 

Lecturer at College of 




Taw feeq AbKhishak\ 

Medical doctor 



Mahdi Nuseif Jasim 

Professor of oil 



Yahya Al-Janabi 

Doctor in General 
Hospital, Sadr City 



Kemal Nassir 

Professor of history 



Nadjat Al-Sahili 

Professor of psychology 



Yaqdan Sadiin Al 

Professor in the College 
of Education 



Hassib Aref Al Obaidi 

Professor of political 



Saad Mehdi Shalash 

Professor of journalism 



Fadhil Al-Dulaimi 

Vice Dean of the 
Baghdad College 
Preparatory School 



Issam al-Rawi 

Professor of geology 
and head of the Iraqi 



Mohammed [assim Ai 

Dean of the 
administration and 
economy faculty 



wife of Mohammed 
Jassim Al Thahbi 

Professor in the 
administration and 
economy faculty 



Dhia Al Deen Mahdi 

Professor of 



I [usscin 

international criminal 

Unknown university 





Abdul Hamid Al 





Abdul Salani Suaidan 

Lecturer in political 



Al Mashhadani 

sciences and head of the 
.cholai drips section of 
the Ministry of Higher 

Mohamed Mehdi Salef 

i Lecturer 



Ali Kadhim Ali 

Professor, Engineering 



Mahmud Mohammed 





Ahmed Hamid al Taie 

Head of clinic 



Ali al -(.ran 




Fleih Al Gharbawi 

Lecturer at the College 
of Medicine 



Hussein Qader Omar 

Directoi of 
administration at 
College of Education 



Izi Al Deen Al Raui 

President of the A i abic 
Universit) 's Institute of 
Petroleum, Industry and 


Farhan Mahmud 

Lecturer at the College 
of Theology 



Ahmed Mehawish 

Lecturer in the 




department of Arabic 

Kathum Mashhout 

Lecturer in edaphology 
at the College of 



Hedaib Majhol 

Head of Students Club 

B a g h d id 


Al Hareth Abdul 

Head of the Department 

: Baghdad 


i lamid 

of Psychology 

Mohammed Haidar 

Professor at Sports 




Education College 

Hassan Ahmed 

Professor of Arabic 



University professor 




(imknow n : 

278 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 






Lecturer in the law 



Muntathar al-Hamdani Vice Dean of law 



Anas al-Jomaili 

Professor at medical 



Khalil al-Jomaili 

Professor at medical 



Kamil Abdul Hussein 

Deputy Dean of Law 

( College 



Majid Nassir Hussein 

Lecturer in the Medicine 

; Baghdad 


Anwar Abdul 1 [ussain 

Lecturer at the ( College 
of Odontology 



Diya Al-Meqoter 

Professor of economics 



Abcdasamia Al Jcnabi 

Deputy president of the 

Baghdad University of 



Abdul Mutalib Abdul 
Razaq al-Hashmi 

Lecturer in law 



Adnan Mohammad 
Saleh al-A'abid 

Professor of law 



Ali Abdul Mutalib 
Abdul Razaq al- 

PhD student, son of 
Abdul Mutalib Al 



Amir Kasim al-Kaisi 

Lecturer in law 



W'alhan i lamced Fans 

Dean of Physical 
Education College 



Ahmed Izaldin Yahya 

Lecturer in the College 
of Engineering 



Majid Naser Husien al- 

- Professor at the 
Veterinary College 



Kareem Ahmed Al- 

Head of the departmenl 
of Arabic language 

Open Universit 

:y 02/22/2007 

Ameer Mekki El 

Lecturer, Technology 



Khalid al-Naid 

Vice Dean of the 
Medical College 



Ridha Abdul Hussein 
Al Qureaishi 

Assistant to Dean of the 
Management and 
Economics College 



Sami Sitrak 

Acting Dean of the 
College of Law 



Munthir Ahmed Al An 

i Unknown 



Khalid AL Hassan 

Secretary to Dean of 
Political Science College 

i, ighdad 


Thair Ahmed Jebr 

Physics department 



Abdul Ghabur Al-Qasi 

Lecturer in history 



Jaffer Hasan Sadiq 

Professor of history 



Talal Al-Jalili 

Dean of faculty of 



AJi Mohamed I lamza 

Professor of Islamic 



Khalid Jubair al- 


Professor at College of 

Al Anbar 


Abdul Wahab Majid 

Lecturei ar ( iollcgc of 



Ismail Taleb Ahmed 

Lecturer at the College 
of Education 



Nidal al-Asadi 

Professor, computers 



Sabah Al-Taei 

Vice Dean of the 
College of Education 




Professor at the 
University of Islamic 



Mahdi Saleh al-Any 




Mohammad Aziz 

Lecturer of art and 



Khalil al-Zahawi 

One of the Muslim 
world's leading 



Abdel-Rahman Al- 
ls:, aw i 

Journalism professor 



« ' ibah al-J >uri 

Professor at the Islamic 
University, al-Adhami) a 



Alaa Jalel Essa 









Head of the Education 
Ministn 's department 
of research and 



Alaa Sliakir Mahmoud 

'•. hanccllor 



Muhammad Kasem A! 

- Lecturer at the College 
of Agriculture 



Xihad Mohammed Ai 

Vice chancellor 



280 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 





Samir (rest of name 


Professor at the l : acult\ 
of Management and 




Zeki Al-Fadaq 




Firas Ahdul Zahra 
Shahlaa al-Nasrawi 

Lecturere at Physical 
Education College 
Professor of law 



Abdul Qadir Ali 

Education College 



Muayad Ahmad Khalat Literature College 
Unknown Professor 



Yasir Al Yasiri 
Ali Sabeeh al-Sa'idi 

Lecturer at Al Sadr 
religious university 
Law professor 



Amin Abdul Aziz 




Mohammad Kadhem 

Former professor 



Adel Abdul Hadi 

Professor of philosophy 



Jamal Mustafa 

Sabri Abdul Jabar 


Head of the history 

Open College for 



Haitham Abdel Salam 




Musa Ja'afar 
Mustafa Khudhr Qasi 

Head of Iraqi 
Geological Survey 





Ali al-Xaimi 




Mohammad Al-Miyah 

Sulaym Khalil an- 


i Dean of Al-Maamoun 

private college, Baghdai 
Professor or accounting 

Lecturer of sociology 




Munther Murhej Radhi Dean of the College of 



Khalil Ibrahim al 

Abdel Sattar Tahir 

President of Islamic 

jurisprudence in Islamic 
science faculty 
Academic and founder 
of pro-government 

Revolutionary Part) in 
the 1970s 



Appendix 2 281 





Jaled Naser Al-Miyahi 

Professor of 



Mundir Marhach 

Dean of faculty of 



had i [amza 

Academic assistant to 
the president of Al- 
Nahrein University 

Al Nahrein 


Mahmoud Talb Latif 

Member of the 



Commision of Muslim 

Taha AbdulRazak Al- 

Professor in Islamic 





Fares Younes Abdul 

Vice Dean of the 




Agriculture Faculty 

Walid Saad Allah al- 





Salih Abed Hassoun 

Dean of College of i aw 
at Al Qadisiyah 




Khaldoun Sabry 




Salam Rasheed 

Medical professor 



Saleh al-Auqaeili 

Former professor 



Faiz Saheb Ghali 

Dean of the facult\ ol 




Dirk Adriaensens is coordinator of SOS Iraq, an organization that 
campaigned against the sanctions imposed on Iraq (1990-2003). He 
is also a member of the executive committee of the BRussells Tribunal, 
an international network of intellectuals, artists and activists who 
denounce and organize against the logic of permanent war promoted 
by the American government and currently targeting the Middle East. The 
BRussells Tribunal launched the World Tribunal on Iraq and it continues 
to serve as a bridge between the intellectual resistance in the Arab World 
and Western peace movements. The BRussells Tribunal initiated the 
global campaign against the assassinations of Iraqi academics. 

Zainab Bahrani is the Edith Porada Professor of Art History and 
Archaeology at Columbia University, New York. She is the author 
of Women of Babylon: ( id Rcj tio \l ; 

(Routledge, 2001), The Graven Image: Representation in Babylon and 
Assyria (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), Rituals of War: The 
Body and Violence in Mesopotamia (Zone Books, 2008). In 2004, as the 
Senior Advisor to Iraq's Minister of Culture, she initiated Iraq's official 
demand for the removal of the US and coalition military base from the 
ancient city of Babylon. Bahrani is the recipient of awards from the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kevorkian Foundation, the Getty 
Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. 
In 2008 she was awarded the Distinguished Columbia Faculty Lenfest 

Raymond William Baker is College Professor of International Politics at 
Trinity College, USA, and an adjunct Professor of Politics at the American 
University in Cairo. Baker was designated as a Carnegies Scholar in 
Islamic Studies for 2006-08. His most recent book is Islam Without Fear, 
published originally by Harvard Press and this year in Egypt and Jordan 
in an Arabic version. A past president of the International Association of 
Middle East Studies, Baker is currently a governing board member of the 
World Congress of Middle East Studies. He is also a founding member 
of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies. 

Notes on Contributors 

Max Fuller is an independent researcher who has specialized in examining 
Iraq's extrajudicial violence, including so-called sectarian violence, in 
relation to the counterinsurgency strategies of the US and UK, drawing 
on his background as a human rights activist for Colombia. His essays, 
including "For Iraq the Salvador Option Becomes Reality" and "Crying 
Wolf: Death Squads and Disinformation in Occupied Iraq" are published 
by the Centre for Research on Globalization. He has been a member 
of the Advisory Committee for the BRussells Tribunal since 2006 and 
is the co-author, with Tareq Y. Ismael, of "The Disintegration of Iraq: 
TheManufaauii i md 1 ilitici uionol'Si l ri ni m published in the 
International Journal <>/ Contemporary Iraqi Studies. 

Abbas al-Hussainy was Director-General of the State Board of Antiquities 
and Heritage of Iraq. He was also a member of the Department of 
Archaeology at Al-Qadissiyah University in Iraq, specializing in Islamic 
archaeology. Hussainy has guest lectured in numerous American 
and European universities on the state of affairs of Iraqi antiquities 
following the Anglo-American occupation. He is the author of numerous 
publications on the archaeology and antiquities of Iraq. In 2007-08 
Hussainy was a visiting scholar in the department of Archaeology, 
University College, London. 

Shereen T. Ismael is Associate Professor of Social Work and MSW 
Field Coordinator in the School of Social Work, Carleton University. In 
addition to her book f /'/' I I \ I fare State: from 

Ei itl en o CI vrity (2006), she is the editor of Globalization: Policies, 
Challenges and Responses (1999). She has published numerous articles 
on Canadian and international social welfare issues. Her latest journal 
articles have appeared in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 
Arab Studies Quarterly and The Intet / U onal journal of Contemporary 
Iraqi Studies. 

Tareq Y. Ismael is Professor of Political Science at the University of 
Calgary, Canada. He also serves as president of the International Center 
for Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies, Secretary General of the 
International Association of Middle Eastern Studies and is author and 
editor of numerous works on Iraq and the Middle East, including Middle 
East Politics Today: Government and Civil Society (2001), Iraq: The 
Human Cost of History (2003), The Iraqi Predicament: People in the 
Quagmire of Power Politics (2004), The ( < \lovement in tht 

Arab World (2005), and The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party in 
Iraq (2008). 

284 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has been covering the 
Middle East for more than five years. He currently writes for the Inter 
Press Service, i.e Monde Diplomatique, and The Progressive. His 
stories have also been published with The Nation, The Sunday Herald 
in Scotland, Al-Jazeera, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, and the 
Independent. Jamail also wrote Beyond the (. , , iZon Dispatches from 
an Unembedded journalist in Occupied Iraq (200"). Jamail's reporting 
won the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, the 
James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway 
Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. 

Mokhtar Lamani is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for 
International Governance Innovation (CIGI). Previously, he served as 
Special Representative of the Arab League in Iraq. He worked to reconcile 
fractious parties and sectarian groups in Iraq while building peaceful 
relations between Iraq and neighboring countries. Earlier Mr. Lamani 
served as Ambassador of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to 
the United Nations as well as Deputy Permanent Observer to the UN, 
Officer in Charge of Iraq-Kuwait dispute, Coordinator of Secretariat 
Reform, and Coordinator of the Euro-Arab Dialogue and Afro-Arab 

Philip Marfleet is Reader in Refugee Studies and Director of the Refugee 
Research Centre at the University of East London in the UK. He is the 
author of numerous works on globalization, migration and the refugee 
experience and has published widely on Middle East politics and society. 
His most recent book is Refugees in a Global Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 
2006) and Egypt: The Moment of Change (co-edited with Rabab El 
Mehdi, Zed Books, 2009). 

Faris Nadhmi, who holds PhD and MA degrees in social psychology 
from the University of Baghdad, has been an instructor and researcher 
at the university since 2002. He writes on issues of death anxiety in the 
context of war. Dr. Faris is a founding member of the Iraqi Ps cholo ,> I 

Glenn E. Perry received his PhD in Foreign Affairs from the University of 
Virginia in 1964 and did further work in Arabic and Middle East Studies 
at Princeton. He has taught Political Science, particularly courses on the 
Middle East, at Indiana State University since 1970. He also taught at the 
American University in Cairo. Reflecting his interdisciplinary interests in 
the region, he has published several books - including The Middle East: 
iii I I Cenii I ' ' mil / '/ i c fj qit (2004) -and 

Notes on Contributors 285 

dozens of articles and chapters, all dealing with Middle Eastern politics, 
history, and religion. In recent years, much of his work has focused on 
the paucity of Middle Eastern democracy. 

Nabil al-Tikriti was a member of the team that operated the Catholic 
Relief Services humanitarian assistance project in Iraq in 1991-92, 
and later served with Medecins Sans Frontieres as a relief worker in 
Somalia, Iran, Albania, Turkey, and Jordan. After serving as a field 
administrator and election monitor in various program assignments, 
he joined the Department of History at the University of Mary 
Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 2004. He has been awarded 
a US Institute of Peace Senior Fellowship, two Fulbright grants, and 
research support from both the University of Chicago and the University 
of Mary Washington. 


Compiled by Sue Carlton 

9/11 see September 11, 2001 

terrorist attacks 
Abbas, Mahmoud 17 
Abd al-Amire, Dr. Husham 155 
Abd Fatlawi, Fakhri 128 
Abdel-Nasser, Gamal 222 
abduction see kidnapping/arrest 
Abid, Abbas 169 
Abizaid, Gen. John 18 
Abu Ghraib prison 230 
Abu Natiha, Lt. Col. Jabbar 122 
Abu-Hatab 84, 85 
Abusalabikh 89 

actions needed to save 137-9 

assassination of 32-3, 119, 

121-6, 132-9, 149-56, 


see also targeted 

campaigns to protect 131-5, 

149, 219-20 
death threats and intimidation 

33, 123-4, 156-9, 163-4, 

deaths in detention 135, 

160-2, 163, 171, 181-2 
forced into exile 33, 41, 71-2, 

127, 134, 159, 163-4, 168, 

203, 205-6, 212, 215, 223 

see also brain drain 
and history of repression 


:t exchanges 138 

kidnapping/arrest 33, 123, 

127-9, 130, 155, 160-4, 

168-72, 216 
origin of purge 172-5 

see also de-Ba'athification 
persecution and harassment of 

Achaemenids 91 
Action Plan for the Palestinian 

Presidency (Plan B) 16-17 
Adab 84, 85 
Afghanistan 9, 214 
Agence French-Presse (AFP) 178 
Agresto, John 37, 98, 166, 226, 

Akkad 89 

Alexander the Great 91 
Alfatlaoy, Dr. Fakhri 127-8 
Ali al-Hadi preparatory school 

Allawi, Ay ad 15 
American Association for the 

Advancement of Science 166 
American Enterprise Institute 10 
al Amiri, Hadi 169 
Amman 242 
Ammash, Dr. Huda Salih Mahdi 

Amnesty International 128, 175 
Anderson, Benedict 220 
Anderson, Charles W. 53 
al-Anji, Dr. Zaki Bakir Sajr 155 
Ankawa 242, 248 
Anna minaret 88 
anti-Semitism 60 

al Any, Mahdi Saleh 163 

Aqerquf 88 

Al-Aqsa Mosque 58 

Arab nationalism 21, 22, 42 

Arabization 59, 249 

Arbil citadel 88 

Arbuthnot, Felicity 227 

archaeological excavations, illegal 

83, 84-5, 88 
archaeologists 71-2, 74 

foreign 88 

shortage of 86-7 
archives and manuscript 

Baghdad 98-105 

contemporary government 
documents 105 

provincial 106 

see also museums 
Armenians 248 
Ashton, Nigel 22 
Ashworth, John 220 
al-Askari shrine 88, 206 
Asquith, Christina 217 

■ targeted 

Association of University 
Teachers (AUT) 150 

Assur 88, 91 

Assyrians 248 

asylum seekers 212-13, 220 
see also displacement 

al-Aujaili, Abduldhiyab 122-3 

Australia, and Iraqi refugees 

Awad, Dr. Kadhum Mashhut 

Awakening Councils 15 

az-Zebleiat 84, 85 

Azerbaijan 54 

Azeris 53^4 

Aziz, Tariq 22 

Al-Azzawi, Dr. Souad Naji 124 

Ba'ath Party 4, 10-11 
archival material 99, 105 
see also de-Ba'athification 

Babylon 29, 70, 72, 84, 87, 88, 
hanging gardens 91 

Babylonian Jewry Heritage 
Center 104 

Badr Organization/Brigade 15, 
124, 133, 162, 164, 166 

Badterbera 89 


archives and manuscript 

collections 98-105 
in history 92 

Baghdad University 133, 150, 
152, 174, 259 
Bab Al-Moadham campus 157 
College of Dentistry 125-9 

Baha'is 249 

Bakaa, Dr. Tahir 136 

Baker, Raymond W. 222 

Barak, Ehud 24 

Barzani clan 23 

al-Barzani, Massoud 23-4 

Barzani, Nechirvan 242 

Basra 86-7, 88, 92, 175, 178-80 
manuscript collections 106 

Basra Center for Gulf Studies 106 

Basra University 150, 152, 223, 

al-Bayati, Dr. Sabri Musiapha 

Al Bayaty, Hana 123 

Bechtel 32 

Begin, Menachem 24 

al Beiruti, Uday 162 

Ben-Gurion, David 59 

Benvenisti, Meron 56-7 

Bezikh 84, 85, 86 

Black Panther n 

Blair, Tony 220 

Bodine, Barbara 69 

288 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Bogdanos, Matthew 95-6 
Boland Amendment (1982) 13 
Borger, Julian 165 
Bosnia 6, 7, 54-5, 61 
Boston Globe 216 
brain drain 129, 204-5, 206, 
see also academics, forced into 

Braude, Joseph 26 

Bremer, Paul 33, 34-5, 71, 108, 

British Petroleum 18 

Brooke , Francis 178 

BRussells Tribunal 122, 124, 
132-3, 135, 149, 150-1, 

Bush, George H.W. 9 

Bush, George W. 3, 7, 217, 231 

Cairo 242 

Camp David Accords (1978) 21 

Central America 

death squads 13-15, 206 

use of terror 228-9 
Centre for International 
Governance Innovation 
(CIGI) 239, 246, 247 
Chalabi, Ahmed 174, 177 
Chatelard, Geraldine 213-14 
Cheney, Dick 9, 10, 18,22, 42 
Chetrit, Sami Shalom 58 
Chevron 18 

Chomsky, Noam 229, 230 
Christian Science Monitor 123, 

Christians 242, 243, 244, 247-8 

I ,i i I ' Ed i 

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) 
4, 14, 176, 177-8, 228-9 

A Clean Break: A New Strategy 
for Securing the Realm 
(1996) 11 
Clinton, Bill 230 
Coalition Provisional Authority 

(CPA)5, 205, 217, 227, 231 
collateral damage 6, 49, 67, 72, 

Collection Management and 
Analysis Directorate 
(CMAD) 176-7 
collective memory 30 
erasing 39, 68, 94, 106-9 
see also mnemocide 
Conner, Walker 52 
Conoco Phillips I 8 
Contras (Nicaragua) 13-14, 229 
Council for Assisting Refugee 
Academics (CARA) 139, 
counterinsurgency 13, 14-15, 17, 
137, 165, 172, 174, 177, 
180, 181,229 
Crain, Charles 124 
Creative Associates Inc. 32 
Crocker, Ryan 42 
Ctesiphon 88, 91 
cultural cleansing 6, 49-61 
of civilizations 49 
in former Yugoslavia 54-5, 68 
and languages 51, 52-3, 54 
of nations 51-4 
in Palestine 55-60 
of peoples 51 
and state-ending 6, 25-6, 37, 

as war crime 70 
cultural destruction 4, 25-40, 
68-80, 82-8 
archives and manuscript 

collections 98-106 
and education system 31-2, 

and global cultural heritage 

and health system 37, 40, 126, 

intrusive infrastructure 86 
looting and destruction of 

antiquities 26-8, 38, 40, 

68-9, 71-3, 76, 77-8, 

and loss of collective identity 

as opportunity for new 

beginning 36-7, 98 
responsibility of Iraqi state 

as willful destruction 25, 36, 

cultural heritage 89-92 
Akkadian Empire 89 
ancient period 89 
Assyrian Empire 90-1 
Islamic period 91-2 
late periods 91 
neo-Babyloniana period 91 
old Babylonian period 

(Ammorite Period) 90 
under King Hammurabi 90 
Ur II Empire 89-90 
and US invasion planning 

cuneiform tablets 86, 88 
Cyrus (Achaemenid king) 91 

Daawa Party 173 
al-Dabbagh, Ali 101 
Dahlan, Mohammad 16 
de-Ba'athification 33, 35, 37, 71, 

136, 150, 168, 172-81, 183, 

208, 224, 225, 226 
de-Ba'athification Committee 

174, 175, 177, 178 
death anxiety 257-8 
in Iraq 258-62 

death squads 3, 13-16, 17, 125, 

backed by US 14-15, 206, 260 
methods 153-6 
Deblauwe, Francis 27 
Declaration of the General 

Assembly of the Conference 

i >f Spanish University 

Rectors (CRUE) 138 
Defense Planning Guidance 

(DPG) 9, 10 
Der (Badra) 83 
detention, deaths in 160-2, 163, 

171, 181-2 
al Dhari, Dr. Muthana 163 
Dhi Qar 28 
Dickstein, Louis 258 
displacement 4, 32, 75, 131, 164, 

203-10, 212-15, 228 
minorities 240, 242, 243-4, 

246, 251 
disputed territories 245, 248, 

divide et imperia (divide and rule) 

policies 5, 17 
Diwaniya 83, 85, 86 
Drehem, Diwaniya 83 
Duarte junta (El Salvador) 229 
Dulame, Sadoun 123-4 
Dur-Kurigalzu 90 
Dwinell, Andrew 120 

economy 5, 37, 167, 205, 208, 

education system 31-2, 37, 40, 
129-31, 136,209,226 
see also higher education 
Egypt 21, 43, 222, 224 
Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty 21 
El Salvador 14-15, 228, 229 
Elamites 90 
Erbil 242 
Erdmann, Andrew 173 

290 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Eridu 88, 89 
Eshnunna 89 

Eskander, Saad 77, 99, 105 
ethnic cleansing 3, 16, 244 
and cultural cleansing 54-5, 
Exxon Mobil 18 

Faili Kurds 243, 249-50 
Faraj, Dr. Ali 163 
Farchakh, Joanne 25 
Farzanda, Imam Mullah 2-1 5 
Fatah 16-17 
Ferguson, Charles 69 
Fisk, Robert 216 
Freeman, Chas 15 
Freud, Sigmund 258 
Friedman, Thomas 225 
Fulbright Student and Scholars 
Programs 204, 219 

al-Gailani mosque 88 

Garner, Jay 34 

Gates, Robert 105 

Gaza 6, 13, 16 

Geneva Conventions 27, 72, 137 

George Yohanna, Donny 78, 104 

Gettleman, Jeffrey 122 

Gilanis 54 

Gillespie, Thomas 16 

Grey, Stephen 179-80 

Guatemala 228-9, 230 

GulfWar(1991)9, 83, 84 

Habid, Aras 178 
al-Hadithi, Khalil Ismail 135 
Hague Convention (1954) 72 
Al Hajj, Omar 125 
Halliburton 18 

Hamadani, Abdil Hameed 171 
Hamas 16-17, 21,43 
Hammurabi 90, 91 

Haram al-Sharif 58 

Harvard University, Committee 

on Iraqi Libraries 100 
Hashemites 11 
al Hashimi, Wissam 162 
Haskalah movement 60 
Hatra 88, 91 

health system 37, 40, 126, 209 
Heine, Heinrich 43 
Hera 91 

Hersh, Seymour 23, 176 
higher education 31-2, 132, 159, 

216, 222-3, 224, 226, 232 
Hilla 92 
Hittites 90 

Hoover Institute 77, 105 
House of Wisdom (Bayt al- 

Hikma) 103-4 
Huguenots 221 

human capital flight 204-5, 208, 
see also brain drain 
Human Rights Watch 123, 

al-Hussaini, Abbas 29 
Hussein, Falah 149 
Hussein, Muhyi 1 1 i 
Hussein regime 

and cultural destruction 78, 

84, 85-6 
irrelevance of 10-11 
link with 9/11 8-9 
and repair of buildings 136 
spared after Gulf War 9 
Hussein, Saddam 4, 10-11, 22, 
28, 77, 84, 123 
targeting supporters of 176, 
Husseinin, Dr. Ali Ahmed 155 

Imwas (Palestinian village) 55-6 
India, and state terror 228 
insurgency 14, 35 

Integrated Regional Information 

Networks (IRIN) 129, 160 
International Coalition of 

Academics Against 

Occupation 131-2 
International Committee of the 

Red Cross 137 
International Committee of 

Solidarity with Iraqi 

Professors 159 
International Laws of War and 

Occupation 70 
International Medical Corps 123 
International Monetary Fund 

(IMF) 224 
International Organization for 

Migration (IOM) 203-4, 

International Tax and Investment 

Center (ITIC) 18-19 
Internet, sale of Iraqi antiquities 

Iran 22, 43, 53, 54, 166 
Iran-Contra affair 13 
Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) 27, 83, 


constitution 184, 241,247, 

infrastructure 4, 32, 75, 209, 

intelligence apparatus 168, 

labelled as terrorist state 3, 38 
and modernization of city 

centers 79 
and oil 5, 7, 9, 17-21,206, 

ind Salvador option 230-2 

5, 15, 30-1, 38, 

182, 184,206,217,240, 

242, 243 
and US and Coalition military 

bases 8, 29, 42, 70, 75, 76, 

77, 79, 87 
Iraq Federation of Oil Unions 

Iraq Memory Foundation (IMF) 

Iraq Scholar Rescue Project 139, 

Iraqi Academy of Sciences 31, 

Iraqi Cultural Heritage Law 70 
Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) 5, 

Iraqi House of Manuscripts (Dar 

al-Makhtutat al-'Iraqiyya) 

101-2, 103 
Iraqi Interior Ministry 26, 168 
abduction and detention 162, 

163, 168-9, 170, 171, 182 
and death squads 14, 15, 17, 

125, 133 
paramilitary unit 176, 182 
Iraqi Jewish Archives 104 
Iraqi National Congress (INC) 

Iraqi National Library and 

Archives (INLA) 99-100 
Iraqi National Oil Company 19 
Iraqi Oil Ministry 26, 95 
Iraqi Red Crescent 207 
Iraqi Security Volunteers (ISVs) 

Iraqi Union of University 

Lecturers 216 
Iraqi-Kurdistan 242, 244, 245, 

248, 249 
Isa, Saadoon 164 
Ishtar, gates of 91 
Isin 84, 85 

292 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Israel 12, 56 

and killings of Iraqi academics 

relationship with Kurds 23^1 
role in Iraq 8, 21-5 
state-ending policies 3-4, 6, 7, 

12-13, 16-17,24 
support for Islamist movements 

in Palestine 21 
US support 8, 11 
al-Izmerly, Dr. Mohammed 

Munim 95-8 

al-Jabouri, Dr. Qais Sabah 154 
Jadriya detention facility 137-9, 

168-70, 181 
Jalili, Dr. Ismail 151-3, 218, 230, 

Jawad, Abdul Sattar 216-17 
Jawad, Dr. Saad 123, 135, 136, 

Aljazeeral50, 166 
Jewish national agency 23 
Jews, assimilation in Europe 60 
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School 

of Health 203 
Jordan 22, 24, 43, 207, 212, 223, 

242, 247 
al-Jumaily, Husain Ali 135 
Just Foreign Policy 203 

al Kafif, Dr. Ali 158 
Kaka'is (Yaresan) 249-50 
Kashif al-Ghita Foundation 102 
Kashtaritu (Median king) 

(Cyaxares) 91 
Kassites 90 
al-Kefel 88 
Kerbala 79, 106 
Kerry Commission 14 
Kerry, John F. 14 
Kesura 89 
Keynes, John Maynard 220 

Khalaf, Muayad Ahmad 163 
Khalilzad, Zalmay 9 
Khan of Rubua 87 
khans 88 

al-Khilani mosque 88 
kidnapping/arrest 13, 151, 205, 

of academics 33, 123, 127-9, 
130, 155, 160-4, 168-72, 

of children 58, 130 

and ransom 160, 162, 164, 247 
Kimmitt, Brig. Gen. Mark 167 
Kirkuk 23, 88, 249 
Kish 84, 87, 89 
Klein, Melanie 258 
Klein, Naomi 225-7, 231 
Knight Ridder news agency 174, 

176, 177 
Kufa 88, 92 

in Iraq 54 

and Israel 23-4 

peshmerga forces 14, 23 

in Turkey 53 
Kutha 89 

Lagash 89 

Lalish 242, 245 

Lancet 203 

Larsa 84, 85 

Levin, Carl 33 

Libby, Lewis ('Scooter') 9, 10 

libraries see archives and 

manuscript collections; 

museums and libraries 
Likud 58 
literacy 32, 131 
low intensity conflict (LIC) 229, 

Luft, Gal 19 
Lugal-Zagesi 89 

Al-Ma'amoon College 129 
McClatchy Newspaper survey 

McPherson, Peter 37, 225-6 
Mahdi Army 1 62 
Mahmoud, Lt. Akmad 122 
\] i! i , ,i, Kanan 105 
Maliki, Nouri 170 
al Maliki, Zuheir 164 
Manathera 91 

Mandaeans 242, 243, 245, 246-7 
Mapai/Labour Party 58 
Marad 89 

Marduk, statue of 90 
Martin-Baro, Ignacio 228 
Mas'ud, Dr. Lu'ay 163 
al Mayah, Dr. Abdul Latif 122, 

Middle East 

and minorities 240-1 

and US policy 8, 9, 10-11, 12 
Middle East Studies Association 

(MESA) conference 217 
Minerva Research Initiative 

(MRI) 76-7 
Ministry of Endowments and 
Religious Affairs Central 
Library (Awqaf Library) 101 
Ministry of Higher Education, 

raid on 170-2 
minorities 239-57 

field research 242 

governance challenges 250-3 

and Iraqi Constitution 252-3 

rights of 251-3 

see also Christians; Mandeans; 
Turkmen; Yezidis 
Miran, Dr. Abdul Qadir 156 
Miran, Dr. Omar 155-6 
Mizrahi (Oriental) Jews 58-9 
mnemocide 93-109 

definition of 94 
Mohammed Abdul-Aziz 129 

al-Mohammedawi, Abdul- 

Kareem 126 
Morris, Benny 228 
Mossad 4, 23, 165 
Mosul 87, 104-5 

manuscript collections 106 
violence against minorities 

242, 244, 245, 248 
violence against students 
Mosul Center for Turkish Studies 

Mosul University 119, 129-30, 

152, 155,259 
Moussa, Maryam Umran 72 
Mukhtar, Ahmed 159 
Al Mulla (al-Mola), Dr. Osama 

127, 128 
multinational corporations 7, 8, 

20, 24 
al-Musawi, Taqi 71-2 
al-Musawi, Yusuf 178, 179 
Museum of Tolerance 57 

s and libraries 30, 92 
s removed 71 
looting and destruction 26, 38, 
40, 68-9, 71, 76, 77-8, 79, 
protection of 95-6 
reconstruction 71, 74, 75 
see also archives and 
manuscript collections 
il-Mustansiriya University 129, 
203, 223, 259 

r (Babyloi 


Nadhmi, Dr. Faris 159 
al Naid, Khalid 162 
Najaf 79, 106 
al-Naqib, Falah 15 
Naqshbandi, Osama 102 
Nasiriya 83, 85, 87 

n king) 

294 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Nasrullah, Khalid Hassan Mahdi 

nation-building 52, 53, 225 
National Assembly of Iraq 35 
National Endowment for the 

Humanities (NEH) 100 
National Energy Policy 

Development Group 18 
National Library 26, 71, 92, 98 
National Museum (Baghdad) 26, 

30, 68-9, 77-8, 84, 87-8, 

92, 95-6 
nationalism 31, 53-4 
nations, cultural cleansing of 

Nebuchadnezzar II 91 
Negroponte, John 206 
neo-conservatism 7, 8-12, 18, 

43, 108,224,230,231 
neo-liberalism 3, 5, 38, 184, 208, 

New York Times 20, 175, 216 
Nicaragua 13-14, 229 
Nimrud 88, 91 
Ninevah 88, 91 
Nippur 88, 89 

Obama, Barack 34, 43 

occupying powers 

and detention of academics 

169-70,172, 182,219 
failure to protect Iraq's cultural 

heritage 26, 27-8, 29, 35, 


95-8, 225-6 
and harassment of academics 

and Iraqi paramilitaries 

176-81, 183 
motives for invasion of Iraq 

39-40, 41, 70 
occupation of Iraqi historical 

sites 29, 70-1, 75, 76, 77, 

78-9, 84, 87 

permissive attitude of 36 
responsibilities 33-4 
and targeted assassinations 
121-5, 136-7, 167-8, 180, 
see also United States 
Office of Reconstruction and 
Human Assistance (ORHA) 
Office of Special Plans 22 
oil 5, 7, 9, 17-21, 24, 206, 210 
industry brain drain 206, 2 I 
and invasion of Iraq 17-21 
oil companies 18-19, 20, 24 
Oil and Gas Journal 19 
Oil-for-Food Program 34 
Operation Iraqi Freedom 26 
Opinion Research Business 

(ORB) 203 
Orwell, George 93 
Osirak nuclear facilities 22 
Ottoman/Hashemite Archives 

100, 104 
Oxfam International 210 


and cultural cleansing 6, 55-60 
destruction of cemeteries 57 
Holy Places 58 
and Iraqi support 8, 10, 21-2 
place names changed 57 
rise of Islamist n 


village destruction 55-6 

Pappe, Ilan 228 

Paristan (the Kurdish Intelligence 
Agency) 23 

Parthians 91 

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan 
(PUK) 24 


and assimilation 51-3 
cultural cleansing of 51 

peshmerga forces 14, 23 
Petraeus, Gen. David 15 
Pettinato, Giovanni 88 
Pfaff, William 59 
PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) 

PLO (Palestine Liberation 

Organization) 21 
privatization 5, 37, 41, 225 
pro-Iranian forces, and killings of 

Iraqi academics 166 
Production Sharing Agreements 

(PSA) 19 
Project for a New American 

Century (PNAC) 10 
prostitution 32 
Psychological Operations in 

Guerrilla Warfare (CIA 

handbook) 229 
Public Interest Lawyers 182, 

Puzur-Dagan 89 

Qadiriyyah manuscript collection 

Qadisiya, battle of (636CE) 91 
al-Qaeda 9, 178, 245, 250 
Al Qaisi, Fakhri 157 
Qal'at Shihan 242, 245-6 
al-Qaysi (al-Kaisy), Ryadh 127, 

Al-Qaysi, Fakhri 126 
al-Qazzaz, Dr. Mahfoudh 154 

Rabin, Yitzhak 22 

Radhi, Munther Murhej 126 

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 

(RFERL) 178 
al-Rawi, Dr. Issam 124-5, 150, 

151, 160, 162 
al-Rawi, Dr. Muhammad 150, 


R '"• ' ling America's Defenses: 

Strategy, Forces and 

Resources for a New 

Century (PNAC) 10 
reconciliation 207, 210, 240, 

253, 254 
refugees see displacement 
Refugees International 204 
relative human valuation 106-9 
Royal Dutch Shell 18 
Al-Rubai, Hassan Abd-Ali 

Dawood 126 
al-Rubaie, Dr. Bassim 125 
Rubin, Andrew 150 
Rumsfeld, Donald 9, 11, 22, 

27-8, 69, 76, 77 
Rutherford, John 220 

Al-Sabab 179 

al Sadr, Muqtada 162 

Safavids 54 

Salt Marshes 84, 85 

Salvador option 230-2 

Samarra 71, 75, 84, 87, 88, 92 

Samarree, Dr. Tareq 168-70, 173 

Sapanious 86 

al-Sarafiya bridge 88 

Sargon the Akkadian (2334-2279 

BCE) 89 
Sasanians 91 

Sassoon, Joseph 226, 227 
Saudi Arabia 19, 21, 43 
Save the Children 130 
Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) 219 
schools and colleges, violence in 

Schwartz, Michael 210 
scientific research centers, 

destruction of 119 

harassment 119-21 

296 Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Scorpions 176 
Seleucia 91 
Seleucid dynasty 91 
Selzer, Michael 60 
Semawa 83, 85, 86 
September 11, 2001 terrorist 

attacks 3, 7, 8-9, 11, 12, 

Shabaks 249-50 
Shabout, Nada 94, 108 
Shamir, Yitzhak 22 
Shamshi Adad I 90-1 
Sharkalisharri (Akkadian king) 

Sharon, Ariel 22 
Shi'ism 54, 85 
Shi'ites 11-12,26, 162, 173 
Shiloh, Ruvin 23 
Shinseki, Gen. Eric 33-4 
Shmet 84, 85, 86 
shrines, attacked 88 
Shurrupak 85, 89 
Simon Wiesenthal Center 57 
Sippar 89 

Smith, Michael E. 26 
Soguk, Nevzat 221 
Spanish Campaign Against the 

Occupation and for the 

Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) 

124, 132 
Special Police Commandos 15 
Spinoza, Baruch 257 
Stari Most bridge 54 
State Board of Antiquities and 

Heritage 71, 77, 86, 87 
state-building 3, 5, 6 
state-ending (state destruction) 

3-5, 6-8, 12-13, 16-17, 

24-6, 41, 42, 44, 98, 172-5, 



and cultural cleansing 6, 25-6, 

see also de-Ba'athification 

states of terror 227-9 

Status of Forces (SOF) agreement 

Steele, Col. James 14-15, 206 
Sternell, Zeev 21 
Stone, Elizabeth 28 
Street of Processions (Babylon) 

structural adjustment 224 
students, violence against 129-30 
Sumerian archaeological sites 83, 

Summerfield, Derek 227-8 
Sunday Times 162 
Sunni-Shia violence (2006) 

Supreme Council for Islamic 

Revolution 15, 166, 173 
Al Suwaydan, Dr. Abdjl Salam 

Syria 207, 208, 215 
Syriacs 248 

al-Takriti, Nabil 30 
Talabani, Jalal 24 
Tallil air base 83 

targeted assassinations 3-4, 32-3, 
119, 121-6, 132-9, 149-56, 

authorship of 164-8, 181-5, 

Israel and 13 

methods 153-6 

and responsibility of Anglo- 
American occupation 167-8 
Task Force 121 176, 178 
Tavernise, Sabrina 160 
Telegraph 179 
Tell al-Makhada 86 
Tell al Wilaya 84, 85 
Tell Brak 89 
Tell Khaled 86 
Temple Ziggurat 29 

terror, and social control 228 
Tha'r Allah (God's Revenge) 

178-9, 182 
Third River Project 86 
The Times 179 
Times Higher Education 

Supplement 216, 226 
Torah, old manuscript taken by 

US soldiers 104-5 
torture 13, 134, 135, 164, 168, 

169, 170-1, 179, 227-8 
death resulting from 121, 171, 

discovery of 'torture chamber' 

made public 230 
Toynbee, Arnold J. 50 
irans-Arabian oil pipeline 22 
Tripp, Charles 223 
Tulul al-Dhaher 84, 85 
Turkey, Kurds 53 
Turkmen 249, 250 

Umm Al-Hafriyat 84 
Umma 84, 85, 89 
United Nations 

pulling out of Iraq 73-4 
weapons inspectors 120 
United Nations Children's Fund 

(UNICEF) 130, 131 
United Nations Declaration on 

the Rights of Indigenous 

Peoples 251-2 
United Nations High 

Commissioner on Human 

Rights (UNHCHR) 132 
United Nations High 

Commissioner for Refugees 

(UNHCR) (Refugee Agency) 

203-4, 207, 208-9, 213, 

214, 243 
United Nations Human Rights 

Council (UNHRC) 137, 138 

United Nations University 
(UNU), International 
Leadership Institute in 
Jordan 31 
United States 

and death squads 3, 14-15, 
206, 260 

global dominance 7-8, 9-11, 
12, 39-40, 43 

grant for Iraqi i 

lal law 9, 29, 

70, 137 

n Arab states 224 
n planning 94-8 
and Iraqi refugees 247 
military surge in Iraq (2007) 

15-16, 128, 206-7 
National Archives and Records 

Administration (NARA) 104 
oil requirements 1 8 
propaganda campaign inside 

Iraq 76-7 
reasons for invasion and 

occupation 8, 9-10, 11, 12, 

relationship with Israel 8, 11 
Shock and Awe tactics 7, 35, 

and state-ending policies 3-5, 

7-8, 12-13, 17,24-6,98, 

use of terror tactics 228-9, 

and willful cultural destruction 

25, 36, 79-80 
see also occupying powers 
universities, establishment of 

University of Baghdad 152, 174, 

222-3, 259 
University of Technology 223 
Ur 29, 70, 83, 84, 87, 88, 89, 90 

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq 

Ur-Nammu (Sumerian leader) 

Uruk 86, 88, 89 
USAID (United States Agency for 

International Development) 

Uttman, Dr. Riyadh 127 
Utu-hengal (Sumerian king) 89 

Voices of Iraq (VOI) 125,259 

waqfiyya religious endo\ 

documents 101 
war on terror 3, 6, 13, 224-5 
Wasit 83, 85, 88, 92 
Washington Post 174, 176, 

216-17, 226 
Watenpaugh, Keith 94 

weapons of mass destruction 10, 

105, 120, 121 
Withrington, John 219 
Wolf Brigade 15 
Wolfowitz, Paul 3, 9, 10, 12, 34, 

World Bank 224 
Wright, Quincy 50 
Wurmser, Meyrav 58-9 

Yalda, Dr. Samir 160 

Yemeni Jews, forcible transfer of 

children 59 
Yezidis 242, 245-6 

Zakko, Dr. Harb 157 
Zebari, Hoshyar 42 
Zionists/Zionism 23, 58-60